Fish campaigner suggests charging for quotas –

Fish campaigner suggests charging for quotas Published:  08 March, 2011

CHARLES Clover, the environmental campaigner who two years ago alerted the world to the potential disaster facing many species, has suggested that UK and European fishermen should be given extra quota – but made to pay for them.

That way, says the author of the hard hitting End Of The Line book and film on the future of fish stocks, gives fishermen a personal interest in the sea becoming healthier.

Writing in his regular Sunday Times column at the weekend, he compares the move to ban discards in European waters to the fishing equivalent of the revolution sweeping the Arab world – where a 30-year-old regime (the Common Fisheries Policy) “is about to crumble”.

He says there is a major change in attitude by countries like Britain, Denmark and Germany (and surprisingly France). In fact the UK and Denmark had already banned discards on a voluntary basis and the experiment was working.

But Clover said a discards ban, however welcome, was not the complete answer and there were dangers that reform could lead to another bureaucratic system which encouraged people to cheat.

The cleverest way of solving the problem was to make fishermen land everything they caught and when they reached their quota for the least plentiful species like cod they would have to stop fishing for the year.

He writes; “They could do that now but don’t because it is cheaper to go on discarding. Paying for a quota gives fishermen a personal stake in the sea getting healthier – and gives them something close to a property right.”

If some boat owners didn’t want to buy extra quota they could fish more selectively for other species such as haddock or dabs. Clover also warns that even if discards are banned there will still be a lot wrong with Europe’s fishing policy such as the “absurd December ritual of setting fishing quotas higher than scientists advise”.