Reform We Can – Fishing Reform

Change We Can

This morning around 3:30 am politicians in Europe struck a deal to reform Europe’s fisheries.

It’s a large step forward. Some will say it is not perfect, but nothing ever made of human hands, let alone from the hands of politicians, ever is. But, it is a major step forward.

The FT View

Joshua  Chaffin’s piece in today’s FT is well worth reading:

EU agrees to end decades of overfishing

By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels



European fleets will have to end overfishing by the end of the decade and substantially abandon the practice of discarding after the EU agreed a sweeping overhaul of its troubled fisheries policy.

The agreement – between representatives from the European Commission, the parliament and member states – came shortly after 3am on Thursday morning following an all-night bargaining session that was, itself, preceded by more than a year of negotiations.

Maria Damanaki, the fisheries commissioner, called the reform a “historical step for all those involved in fisheries”, saying: “We are going to change radically the way we fish in the future.”

The centrepiece of the reform is a requirement that all EU stocks be fished at sustainable levels by 2020, with most required to meet that standard in 2015.

That means catch limits must be based on scientific recommendations about the maximum number of fish that can be harvested without damaging a stock’s ability to replenish itself.

The reform will also reduce the ruinous practice of discarding, in which fish are thrown overboard at sea so that fleets can return to shore with only the most valuable catch.

Discards will be limited in the coming years to no more than 5 per cent of the total catch, with member states required to seek special permission from the commission.

The UK, in particular, has argued that some discards must be tolerated because certain species swim together and cannot be easily separated.

The EU is the world’s biggest consumer of fish. Yet about two-thirds of its stocks are currently overfished, according to the commission. In the Mediterranean, the figure is more than 80 per cent.

European politicians have for years routinely ignored scientific advice while providing subsidies to underwrite ever-larger fleets.

The common fisheries policy’s quota system and Byzantine rules has been blamed for creating perverse, unintended consequences while rankling local authorities by concentrating decision-making powers in Brussels.

“We have learnt lessons from the existing common fisheries policy, which in some areas has failed,” said Simon Coveney, Ireland’s fisheries minister, who helped to shepherd through the final deal.

The agreement, which must be rubber-stamped by the full parliament and member states, will give more authority to local authorities to manage fisheries. It also seeks to reward low-impact, environmentally-sound fishermen by urging national governments to grant them bigger shares of annual quotas.

Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace’s fisheries policy director, said: “For decades in Europe, fishing has been a story of decline, with severe overexploitation of fish stocks and small-scale fishermen squeezed out of business by a minority of profiteering fishing barons. The deal that is emerging today is good news.”

Ms Richartz also complained that the agreement – while it would curb overfishing – did not contain binding deadlines to rebuild damaged stocks and exempted some species from the discarding restrictions. “It is disappointing,” she said.

Uta Bellion, a spokesman for the Pew environmental trust, said the parties had “made history” with the agreement. “They agreed to rebuild fish stocks, set a legally binding target to end overfishing, and committed to reducing by catch and discarding. This is a well-deserved success for Commissioner Maria Damanaki, and a testament to her vision.”


How To Fish Without Subsidies – Lessons from the Baltic

Hopefully, we are in to our last week on the reform of the rules that govern Europe’s fishing industry.

Trawling for Soviet Era Subsidies

Trundling behind them is the reform of how Europe gives subsidies to this industry. The amount of taxpayers money being given out to a very few boats is staggering. Conservative guestimates are that the government spends more money in control, enforcement, and subsidies than the industry brings in.

But, the bizzaire justifications for taxpayers to be forced to spend their hard earned money on others continues to this day.

Give Me Your Money

The strangest one is that old large vessels should be paid by taxpayers to modernise their boats. I’ve got no problem that a private individual should spend his own hard earned income to modernise his aging vessel. I think it is wrong that any boat owner get his political friends to pass laws that force taxpayers to pay for boats to be modernised at taxpayers expense.

Europe’s Conservatives – Corporate Sugar Daddies

Now, the irony is that French conservatives, like Alain Cadec, are behind these corporate welfare schemes. That he comes from Brittany, an area dominated by large and old fishing vessels is just a co-inidence.

Now, the strange thing is that many old vessels (large and small) are modernised at the owners expense. Yes, there really is industry happening in europe that works at a profit and is not bankrolled by Government.

A Free Market Model

Here is just one example of a boat operating today that has been upgraded without subsidies. It escaped the East German Soviet model and we should not allow that to come back.

baltic Sea-smaller

A Master Class On What To Do When They Are Coming For You

I enjoyed watching Apple CEO’s Tim Cook’s appearance before the Senate.

You can watch it here

Friend of Mac

I have been a user of Mac’s great products for over 15 years. Their products are not cheap. They are great value. They don’t give you the blue screen of death. And, if there is a problem, the staff fix it without being sods about it. They also have great sales staff, that is the ones who want to help you, answer what are likely to be stupid questions, and treat you with some decency and civility as you give them a lot of cash. Amazingly, very few stores do that for you.  It’s like they want to repeat business. I am happy to keep doing that. I’ll do it as long as they provide a product that does the job I want it to do.


One Law for the Very Rich and One for the Rest of Us

I find their tax practices wrong, although know they are legal. It is like the very rich and large multinationals have designed a tax system that overwhelmingly helps them. The middle class get screwed paying 50% of their income to spend easy governments and the very rich pay 5%.

What To Do If They Are After You

Tim Cook would have known the US Senate were going to go for him. He deflected their attacks with grace and decency. Others in the same line of attack should mimic him. Few will.

Forbes look at how he did it. The article is well worth reading.

Know Your Audience

Tim Cook knew his audience. He spoke to them. He did not speak at them. He knew what they wanted to hear and he spoke to that. He looked into their hearts and minds and spoke to them.

How many company officials do that?

Knowing your audience is key to speaking in public. It is key to writing. It is the key to getting on in most things.

When speaking to government and politicians many companies and industries, strangely enough, forget about this. It is like a group of latin speakers start speaking to politicians and regulators in Latin and find it surprising that very few people understand a word they are saying.  Indeed, they speak about themselves in their own words, often in a language that no one outside their industry understand, and seem to forget that they are speaking to a group of men and women who don’t understand them. Worse of all they don’t seem to care, and then get angry when  with the politicians and regulators for not understanding them!

It does not have to be that way. It can change. But, that only happens if you want your audience to understand what you’re saying. As Tim Cook showed us, it can be done.

What Not To Do If Your Cause Is Attacked

Professor Cass Sunstein  provides some helpful suggestions on how to deal with rumours directed against you.

Un-usual Suspects Speaking Up For You

When your cause or interest is under attack, often the easiest thing to do is take to the airways (twitter feed/web) and attack the ill founded rumours against you.  Strangely enough, that well may just the wrong thing to do, and will only increase people’s belief in what your opponents are saying.

Sunstein notes:  “The broader conclusion is clear. If a false rumour is circulating, efforts at correction may not help; they might be futile and they may even hurt. Once a cascade has spread false information or group polarization has entrenched a false belief, those who tell the truth in order to dispel the rumour may end up defeating their own goal.”

If your interest is under attack, instead you should reach out to some the unexpected. As Sunstein puts it “There is an important general lesson here. If you want people to move away from their prior convictions, it is best to present them not with the opinions of their usual adversaries , who they can dismiss, but instead with the view of people with who they closely identify.” He gives the example of a Democratic politicians being attacked. If Democrats deny the rumour, you may not be much moved, but if Republicans do, you might well reconsider.  This worked well for President Obama. He secured the support from well-known Republicans like Colin Powell and Charles Fried, and these unusual suspects worked particularly effectively against smears against the candidate.

A good way to squelch a rumour is to demonstrate that those who are apt to believe it in fact do not.


Don’t Keep Talking About the Rumour

Does denouncing the false story help your cause? It  does not seem to.

Sunstein observes that “It is well established that when people are given information suggesting that have no reason to fear what they previously thought to be a small risk, their fear often increases. this mysterious finding is best explained by the fact that when people’s attention is focused on a risk, their fear grow, even if what causes them to focus on that particular risk was information that the risk was in fact small. It is scary to think about a danger, even if it is unlikely to come to fruition; people may not be comforted to hear that they have (say) a one in one hundred chance of dying from a heart attack in the next five years, or that their child has a one in one thousand chance of developing leukemia. So too, perhaps, with corrections of false reports: by focusing people’s attention on these reports, they can increase the perception that what was falsely reported may in fact have occurred.”

Useful lessons to bear in mind when your interests come under attack.