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Thursday, 12 June 2014

A follow up to yesterday's post on small boat fishermen and the work of NGOs supporting their cause

The article yesterday from Yan Giron gained some robust feedback, in particular from Jerry Percy in Wales. The previous post today relates the moves by Defra to garner comments and ideas from small scale fishermen in the UK with regard to the proposed unilateral driftnet ban planned for 2015 championed by ex-EU Fisheries boss Maria Damanaki, the subject of these recent posts by Yan and others.

The internet, through social media like Twitter and Facebook and blogs such as this is accessible to all - and better than that, provides a dialogue in real time between all those wishing to comment and add their say in fair and open debate - posts like this are made to encourage such comment and further inform readers wherever possible of a wider range of views and experiences.

Here Yan explains the thinking behind his comments in more detail.

"I would like to explain myself about it. First, I spoke about NUTFA, but in fact I refered about all European small scales fishermen groups which benefited from support of Greenpeace and also WWF and behind PEW.

This type of support was identified in our november 2012 Blue Charity Business report as a potential [control & command] strategy of PEW Charitable Trusts to be implemented in Europe.

In USA, PEW and other charitable trusts implemented what they call "Sustainable Fishery Trusts" to gain control on fisheries through the management issue. In USA, they managed to lobby to make compulsory privatised fishing rights to be implemented (they call it "smart management tools" or "catch-shares"). PEW, Walton and Moore gave money to some fishermen groups, like the Cape Cod commercial hook fishermen association, big amount of money to payback fishing rights from other fishermen. Then they pooled the fishing rights into a financial trust (http://capecodfishermen.org/fisheries-trust) which aims to lease this fishing rights to the fishermen, under new rules, apart from the fishing regulations, with strong environmental conditions. The overall privatisation of the fishing rights impacted strongly the US fishing industry in Maine and many fishing boats were destroyed. In the same time, PEW's friends used the regionalisation of the fishing management to lobby to implement a strong conservation-leaded spatial management to maintain remaining fishermen into smaller fishing grounds and under their rules. The main implementer of this strategy in USA was (and still is) EDF. EDF still receives several tens of millions of US$ per year to fund all this strategy of getting power over the fishery management.

In Europe, the strategy is a bit different. First Charitable trusts tried to make compulsory privatisation of fishing rights to everybody. Oak foundation (funding partner of PEW's strategy) made a meeting to remind its money benefitors that they had to lobby for that in the first semester of 2012. Then they gave up because of strong opposition into the European Parliament and from some small NGOs parts of OCEAN2012 PEW's coalition. But in fact they don't need this privatisation tool (even it is already implemented in many European countries, like your FQA). They can get power only by crossing several tools : (1) strong and difficult-to-implement regulations (such as strong application of discards, or driftnet ban), (2) spatial management and pretendous support to small scales fishermen and (3) heavy lobbying about implementation of enforcement of the difficult regulations they lobbied for (see how IUU issues come now in their communication). You must be aware PEW & PEW's friends requested many seats into the several RACs, because European Commission said RAC will be the place to finalize technical measures such as discard ban and very detailed "smart management tools". And if there is not enough SSF organisation who partner with them, they created some on their own. Weren't you surprised to have a new fishermen organisation in UK called Sustainable Inshore Fishery Trusts last year? Why do you think they called it like this? who funded them and recruit their staff? Aren't you surprised to discover this new US NGO coming now in Europe with a ready-to-implement fishing management toolbox ? (EDF) ?

Why these Charitable trusts support small scale fishermen? It is very useful for communication purposes: first, it is an excellent way to say "you can implement very strong regulations against "big boats" with a very low social cost". Second, they can use the sympathy credit and positive image of small scale fishermen into the public opinion. Third, their partnership is based on relationships between "bottom" NGOs nice young boys and girls freshly coming out from University (who are not aware of this global strategy  and SScF. Four, it is a good way to promote their idea of what fishing industry must be into city dwellers mind (see the Greenpeace trailer "fisherman's friend" with a new look). Five, they can use the "David against Goliath" communication strategy which works well in the mind of not specialised people. In case some critics come out, the Big NGO won't directly answer to the critics. They will only say they are not opposed to fishermen, and let their partner SScF speak by themselves. These SScF are very sincere, and will be very angry, because they will have the feeling that they are critised directly whereas critics are directed against PEW and PEW's friends. So these SScF will be the best shield ever PEW's partner can find, because SScF are not aware of this overall strategy.

This is for the overall strategy. But there is a question which must not be forgotten, it is why it was possible to implement this control-&-command strategy so easily. Are we really sure all SScF were well associated and their interest well taken into account in our European fishermen organisations? Is our industry enough united, and if not why? What must be done to better balance fishing issues and implement a fair co-management? We also must not refuse improving our fishing where possible, and we must improve and invest time in partnership with scientists and enforcement, otherwise some people will come from outside to do it for you with their rules. The fact is many thing have changed since few years in our fishing industry, and we must build on our own future, in a fair way between all type of fishing activities, otherwise others will use our weaknesses. Our main threat would be to forget why some SScF had to do a eNGO's partnership and we must not demonise them for it. And on the other hand, our SScF colleagues who invest in eNGOs partnership must understand that there is some critics into these eNGO's partnerships, we can critise these partnerships and SscF are not the target of these critics. One good way is to implement co-management structure (between fishermen only) or to have everybody well represented in existing structures (and invest time in it). Of course, what I describe here is too global at the European level to address any local situation."