Blue Fin Tuna – Coming to Face to Face

I spent a few years at WWF working on the protection of Blue Fin Tuna. It was some of the most enjoyable, tough and challenging work I have ever done.

What Size Bullet Proof Vest Do You Take Sir?

It is the only time I have been recommended by a government official to get a bullet proof vest as the work was making a lot of powerful and dangerous men get angry.

Who Runs Europe’s Industry?

It is one of the few times when European governments were open, in private, about the role of the mafia in its many guises, being key to the operation of the industry. It was always the more remarkable that European governments did so little to stop the illegal overfishing and put this once plentiful fish at the verge of extinction.

A Cash Cow for Dictators Sons

So, in post revolutionary Tunisa, it was surprising to come across two Blue Fin tuna displayed in the restaurant of the hotel I was staying at.

The fishing of blue fin tuna in the waters of the Tunisa and Libya were after all controlled by the sons of the ex-dictators, often working closely with European fishing interests. I wonder who now owns these valuable concessions today?

You can see a picture below.

Commissioner Barnier – In Whose Interests Does He Act

A College of Cardinals For Europe – the College of Commissioners

European Commissioners are meant to act in the general interest of Europe.  Their very generous salary package and pension is just one way that avoiding the genouritsty and lure of national and specials interests when they leave office.

An Oath of Loyal and Independent Service

But, Commissioners go one step further. They swear an oath of office, a contract so to speak, to:

  • having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament

I solemnly undertake:

  • to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties;
  • to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union;
  • in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity;
  • to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.

I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks.

I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.”


 What About in Practice?

Now, after a few years working in the Commission I realized that this ideal was being diluted.  National capitals step in to influence the preparation of commission proposals from the very start. National capitals, in particular the Elysee Palace, today have seeming real time access to every draft and development in the Commission.

Where is the Guardian of the Treaty? 

Now, the mirage of the Commission and Commissioners acting in the European interest is kept alive. The idea of President Barosso being a naked King with princelings running amok promoting national interests goes against the very ideal of Europe.

Barniner to the Rescue – but to Whose Rescue?

I enjoyed reading one of the Sunday Times pieces last week titled “French scupper law to protect British sea bed”. The piece talks about how Commissioner Barnier blocked,  at the very last moment,  a proposal from fisheries Commissioner Damanki to limit the effects of deep sea fishing. The reason he is credited with giving was to protect french fishermen.


Where’s the Leadership Hiding Out in Berlaymont?

Now, what I find hard to understand is that the President of the Commission, or someone acting in his interests, did not quietly and decisively step in, and politely remind Commissioner Barnier of his contract.

If the Commissioner does not want to carry on in office, he is welcome to retire, on a very generous pension, and go and defend France’s dying industry from the ramparts of French politics. But, to promote national interests is against the Commissioner’s contract.

What next, Commissioner Oettinger throwing the ETS Regulation to the wolves to save the German coal based power industry?



France Wants Your Money Now

Cuviller – A True Socialist

I have to give it to France’s new Fisheries Minister he sticks by his party’s colours.

Tweeting A Bankrupt Subsidy Ideology

A few days ago he tweeted he wants the EU to now cough up money to pay for France’s fleet. Please see below.

I presume he wants taxpayers’ from outside France to pay for his fleet.

That a lot of France and fellow travelers, like Spain, had their fleet built with taxpayers money, modernized by taxpayers money, often to the sums of tens of millions of euros – and would not have been built without hard working families money – seems to have escaped him. Or, perhaps as a politician from a deprived port, the move makes a lot of sense.

Why Can’t France Pay

He knows that his or the other 7 countries do not have the money to pay for these hair brained schemes. Their current upcoming or current state of bankruptcy of national finances and their economies limit even powerful fishing interests ability to grab hard working families money. They can’t grab it because the money does not exist.

But, there is a pool of cash available from some countries – the same set of prudent, future orientated nations – and find it hard to justify to themselves why they should pay the way for others who have been fickle and reckless in the past.

 What’s Your Money Going to Be Spent On

Let’s be clear. We are not talking about modernization to help the industry to make the transformation to economic and ecological viability. No, we are talking about paying for new engines and sonar equipment to help fishermen stay out at sea longer and target the remaining fish even more precisely.

Freedom Ensnared

Why these investment in their own boats can not be made by fishermen themselves is beyond me. As a fishermen mentioned to me once  during a discussion with regulators ‘it is like a group of freedom loving individuals, fishermen, have been ensnarhsed by the lure of cheap money from the government. But, when you become dependent on a government check to live at the end of the month, you have lost your freedom’.

I can only hope that there are a majority of modern fisheries ministers ready to take a stand.


À l initiative de la France 8 pays demandent à @MariaDamanakiEUde réintroduire les aides à la modernisation de la flotte de pêche.

Summer Time Reading for The Fisheries Committee

Members of the fisheries committee have submitted 2549 amendments to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Other languages

The amendments are only available in English at the moment. Other languages will be available in July and September.

Delay Game?

I hope that the MEPs don’t use the volume of amendments that they have tabled as yet another reason to delay.

If they were honest the mainly Southern conservative bloc who oppose reform and still wants billions of corporate welfare to be paid to the industrial fleet will do some reading and allow the vote to take place on time.

I suspect that the lack of an Irish or Estonian translation of any of the 2549 amendments will be reason enough for the fisheries committee to delay again.

You can find the text through the excellent CFP reform watch or below.

Report from Rodust Report
Amendments 228–523

Amendments 524-906
Amendments 907–1309
Amendments 1310–1687
Amendments 1688–2004
Amendments 2005–2367
Amendments 2368–2549