Cod pieces and butter mountains

This is my MEP Robert Sturdy’s latest report from Brussels and includes reforms of the Commons Fisheries Policy and butter mountains:

The European Commission is muddying our waters again image unnecessarily.

This time, it is our recreational sea anglers who face the full extent of their ridiculous bureaucracy which could have a considerable impact in the Eastern region which I represent.

It follows the announcement by the European Commission that it wants to impose quotas on recreational fishermen limiting the number of fish they may catch. They say it is intended to protect endangered species, such as cod, pollack and shark.

East Anglia has some of the finest fishing coastline in the country and sea angling, in particular, has seen a huge surge in popularity in the last decade. Now it is proposed that these quotas will be included in the total quota allowed to individual Member States. I just can’t see that happening.

Although I welcome reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, which has to date been bad for British fishermen, I believe this proposal is ludicrous and will be totally unworkable. Introducing reforms that will require further micro-management from image Brussels will only exacerbate the present problems. To me, this is totally unworkable and cannot be managed.

To propose regulations that target an innocent minority enjoying his leisurely pursuit is only going to alienate our electorate, particularly our anglers who genuinely enjoy fishing for pleasure, and make us a laughing stock. It will complicate current legislation and I shall vigorously oppose it.

When will Brussels realise that this heavy handed approach will not only result in a bureaucratic nightmare if it becomes law, but would actually do very little to meet its objectives in the recovery of fishing stocks, as well as damaging tourism in these coastal regions. That is something I certainly do want to see happen in East Anglia.

I believe if the European Commission is serious about wanting to protect our fish stocks, it should launch a total and effective review of the CFP, and not target the harmless recreational sea angler.

*"Some folk want their luck buttered," Thomas Hardy once said.  And the luck for EU farmers seems to be getting better.  This week it was announced that the EU is buying 30,000 tonnes of unsalted butter to put into cold storage, as well as up to 109,000 tonnes of milk powder. imageJust so you understand exactly the full extent of this, this weight is around the same as 75 jumbo jets. Inexplicably, this is happening at a time when the EU is committed to wholesale reform of its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), resolving the problems that had led to the now infamous "mountains" and food and "lakes" of oil and wine, and is a massive step backwards.

The reason given for this extraordinary action is protection. EU farmers have suffered from a massive drop in demand in their main butter markets (especially in Russia as a result of the crash of the rouble) which in turn has resulted in a price crash. This action undermines all our efforts to move away from the protectionist policies of the past.

At a time of ongoing financial crisis, we should be fully liberalising markets and placing Europeans on an equal playing field with our competitors. We are, in effect, artificially supporting farmers by inflating the market price for these commodities. In my opinion farmers, would much rather turn a profit in a system that is both free and fair. For far too long the EU has controlled prices to the detriment of the farming communities of less developed nations who are desperately trying to make a living, but were forced out of a closed EU market.

Currently the WTO is trying to complete the Doha round of talks launched in 2001, a round that is specifically designed to open up world trade by bringing down this kind of non-trade barriers that have frequently distorted world markets in the past. At its peak, the butter surplus in Europe was a massive 1.2 million tonnes, and it was only in 2007 that the EU was finally able to do away with this "mountain" – an event that received much publicity. I was naturally shocked and dismayed when I learned of this development.

For this reason, I was most encouraged by the visit of the Czech presidency to the European Parliament’s Trade Committee last week. With the election of President Obama across the pond, many in the EU are worried that he too may resort to protectionist policies to artificially shield America from the effects of the global slowdown at the expense of everyone else. While the new Obama administration’s policies are yet to fully emerge, our Czech colleagues assured us that they will continue the EU’s free trade policies. They were adamant that lessons from the 1930s recession had to be heeded – namely that protectionism will only make things worse for everyone – prolonging the effects of the global economic downturn.


  1. And EU legislation is a ‘minefield’ for a specific and deliberate reason:

    for it to be esoteric and difficult for ordinary people to scrutinise.

  2. Q9, “cod pieces” was a play on the word “cod portions”. 🙂

    EK. I know that Robert is doing his best to protect the interests of British workers among this EU minefield of legislation.

  3. Let them alienate the public. Let the EU show us its true face. As it is doing over the Total Oil dispute and its involvment in the shady business of the race to the bottom for wages

    Riots are now going on all over Europe. Soon to be happening here, don’t doubt it.

    I genuinely believe that the EU is, at its heart, hedgmonic and tyrannical and will lead us to the Gulags sooner than we think.

    This is not a joke.

  4. I agree “this is totally unworkable and cannot be managed”. I agree completely; succesive governments have done nothing to nurture and protect fishing and farming. In fact with the foot and mouth crisis they just made matters worse.

  5. lol Elle,
    I thought you were going somewhere else altogether with ‘codpieces’
    never mind wine lakes & butter mountains

    Does the EU have actually any legislation on ‘codpieces’

  6. Impose quotas on recreational fishermen..?? I’ve never heard such rot! I know they do that on some traditional Celtic men who wade waist deep in rivers to catch salmon, but I’ve never heard of quotas for ordinary worm-on-a-hook fishermen ~ how patently ridiculous!

    The EU’s fishing policy is abominably stupid… the amount of stuff that could be eaten yet has to be thrown back by law where it will only die… is an outrage and I’m shocked they’ve STILL done nothing about it

    Then again what can you expect of a parliament based in Brussels that still insists on upping sticks every single month to Strasbourg ~ just to keep the economy of that French town afloat. (Well I can’t think of any other reason that should be done… the world is mad, Ellee ~ utterly INSANE…)

  7. Any report from Brussells will be detrimental to Britain.

  8. Thanks for that update Mark. This is what Robert wants to protect against.

  9. We should be further warned against the idea of burdening anglers with the Common Fisheries Policy by the new research paper from the TaxPayers’ Alliance which reveals that the CFP has not only destroyed 97,000 jobs, and decimated fish stocks, it adds over £180 to each family’s food bills every year.


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