From Socialist Voice, December 2010

Reclaiming our seas

Thomas Pringle, the independent candidate who put up such a good performance in the Donegal South-West by-election, is part of a two-person People’s Movement delegation that will meet the EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, María Damanáki, on 7 December. They are part of a larger delegation from the Reclaim Our Seas Alliance that will travel to Brussels for the meeting.
     ROSA is an alliance of fishing groups from England, France, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic supported by the People’s Movement, united in a campaign to halt the economic and social decline suffered by fishing communities caused by the Common Fisheries Policy. ROSA represents a new strategic direction for fishing policy that gives member-states with an interest in a particular fisheries area the primacy of deciding the right policy for that area.
     ROSA’s objectives are:
     (1) to halt the centralising process that has characterised EU fisheries policy through the real CFP of equal access to the resource, with exclusive competence for all marine resources being with “Brussels”; and
     (2) to initiate the process immediately of repatriating control of policy, management and stocks back to individual EU maritime member-states.
     That is the outcome ROSA is looking for from the current review of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. ROSA strongly believes that the CFP has failed to support biological and ecological sustainability, match fishing capacity with fishing opportunities, establish clear and fair levels of compliance throughout the EU, and engage with the industry to improve fisheries policies.
     ROSA believes that a successful fisheries policy should deliver sustainable fisheries management arrangements that will bring an end to discards, co-management with industry and marine stakeholders, fisheries management arrangements that are aligned with marine environmental and marine planning objectives, and fisheries policies that recognise and are sensitive to the needs of fisheries-dependent communities.
     To achieve these, fundamental reform is required at the EU level. Central to that reform is the repatriation of decision-making powers to member-states and the establishment of a series of regional fisheries management arrangements between relevant member-states.
     Additionally, a greater recognition of conservation measures, including discard reduction measures, and closer engagement with marine fisheries will lead to improved policy.
     Representatives of ROSA are having a working lunch organised by Struan Stevenson, vice-chairperson of the EU Parliament Fisheries Committee, on 7 December in Brussels with members of that committee, together with Damanáki and Lowri Evans, Director-General of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, to explore these issues.
     The involvement of the People’s Movement begins from the basic principle enshrined in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic: “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies.” This means defending and asserting the interests of the working people, the self-employed and the productive entrepreneurial sector through campaigning for a democratic, independent economic development policy with a leading role played by the state sector rather than the transnationals.
     The present economic crisis also shows the continuing relevance of self-development to a country like Ireland. This points to the need to develop our own resources to the maximum. To be able to do this we must control those resources.
     Fishing is a glaring example of a resource over which we do not have that necessary control. Therefore, there is a need to campaign for the return of control of our fisheries to this country from the European Union and the renegotiation of the Common Fisheries Policy.

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