I've just been on the Fisheries Committee, listening to one of the most asinine proposals I've ever heard. And, after ten years in the European Parliament, that's saying something.
In essence, the EU wants to extend the Common Fisheries Policy to recreational anglers. Sporting fishermen, who go out in small boats or fish from piers, will be required to purchase licences and to log every fish. At present, while they keep the odd fish for personal consumption, most sea anglers return their catches to the water. In some cases, they tag them first, contributing to conservation programmes. If the European Commission gets its way, they will be forced to land every tiddler they catch, and to count their quota against the national one.
Why? Where is the need for this expensive and cumbersome scheme? Will it rescue the EU's fish stocks? Hardly. The CFP has already wiped out most of what ought to have been a great renewable resource. Recreational sea anglers account for perhaps one per cent of the total catch that remains.
No, this is regulation for its own sake: the product of an attitude that sees "unregulated" as synonymous with "illegal".
British and Irish MEPs put up a heroic defence on the committee, demolishing every point in the Commission's case. But the Commission continued to insist, mulishly, that the measure was necessary for conservation. Conservation? Coming from the organisation that has presided over the ecological calamity of the destruction of North Sea fish stocks, that really is hard to take. The CFP put most the skippers in my constituency out of business years ago. Some of them turned to tourism, making a new living by taking anglers out in their boats. Now, the CFP threatens to ruin them a second time, bringing to amateur fishermen the same destruction that it brought to professionals. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan