Thursday, 12 November 2015

Europeche accuses Pew of defending the ideas of "false and contrary" to the weight and impact science discussion forums, advisory councils and ideas.

As fishermen provide more and more data and reap the benefits of their efforts to curb by-catches and fish more sustainably through technical methods so the big NGOs will respond in ever more aggressive ways as the evidence begins to undermine their attempts to indirectly and directly influence legislators - in this instance they have upset Europeche who have accused the Pew Foundation (an American charity like the Oak Foundation which sees fit to fund many anti-fishing activities here in Europe - High Fearnley-Whittingstall's infamous FishFight being one to the tune of -

"What the industry does not need is the continuing harassment by environmental extremists backed by substantial sums of money from charitable groups such as the Oak Foundation in the Fish Fight campaign. That Foundation funded Keo Films to the tune of almost $500k. HFW is a Director and presenter of the company which has produced his and Professor Callum Roberts latest unbalanced assault on the industry."  Courtesy of FAL

It is a measure of just what small-scale fishermen throughout the UK and beyond are up against - surely a case of David and Goliath to the power of ten. Below, is a little background on the growth of pressure on the European fishing industry funded largely by giant American charities that have pumped well over £75,000,000 into NGOs like Greenpeace and the WWF in Europe. 
However, the position of the European fishing industry on the CFP reform was far from unified, in fact, one cannot speak of “the European fishing industry” in the first place, as huge differences exist within the national organizations represented in Europêche, not to speak of those parts of the fishing sector which are hardly represented at all.
The latter is for example the case for large parts of small-scale fisheries in Portugal. Hence, internal rifts appeared from the beginning: while Spanish and Scottish fishing organizations harshly criticized the reform proposal, the Danish Fishermen’s Association stated that “Danish fisheries are economically viable” and “already geared towards the changes the European Commission envisages” (CFP Reform Watch 2011).
With the fishing sector divided and national industry corporations disagreeing about their position towards the CFP reform, it became increasingly difficult to lobby decision-makers with clear and coherent messages. In fact, statements of Europêche, for example, were relatively scarce – at least compared to statements from environmental groups, which soon dominated the stake-holder discourse on the CFP reform. Moreover, the sector appears to have grossly underestimated the rise in political authority of the EP and its effects. While the fishing sectors maintained its lobbying focus on the Council and individual governments, they neglected the EP. Even liberal and conservative MEPs from traditional fishing countries mentioned the peculiar absence of industry lobbying .

In contrast, environmental NGOs were extremely active in monitoring and lobbying the Parliament. In 2009, a group of NGO representatives already active in European Fisheries met to form an alliance to pressure for a more sustainable CFP. The resulting NGO coalition Oceana2012 was initiated by the US-based charity foundation PEW, which had just opened office in Brussels, and four other environmental NGOs (interview 5). The overall aim of the 14 Performing ‘Green Europe’campaign was to focus on over-fishing. The NGO coalition grew to 50 members by the end of the year 2009, and when the Ocean2012 campaign ended with the finalization of the CFP reform in early 2014, it consisted of 193 environmental groups.
The members of Ocean2012 decided to present themselves as a united front vis-à-vis MEPs, Commission and Council. Hence, they always approached decision-makers as a group of several NGOs under the heading of Ocean2012. With the publication of the Commission proposals, they started an intensive lobbying campaign that focused on the EP in particular (interview 5). They organized hearings, at times together with MEPs, circulated policy and opinion papers, wrote open letters to the Parliament at large as well as to individual members, and staged dramatic performances in front of the EU institutions to draw media attention. Before committee and plenary votes, Ocean2012 bombarded MEPs with emails detailing the NGO positions as well as with individual letters from the MEPs’ constituencies. Reportedly, PEW also financed similar campaigns on the national level, targeting national audiences in selected Member States.
Contemporaneously and independently from the Ocean2012 initiative, a chef from the UK, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, launched his own campaign to end discards in 2010, Hugh’s Fish Fight. Fearnley-Whittingstall is a celebrity chef and broadcaster in the UK, who runs his own cooking program on a major private TV channel. His campaign against the practice of discarding edible fish at sea soon attracted media attention throughout the UK, and he created an online petition collecting more than 870,000 supporters from 195 countries. His campaign is credited with raising awareness of the discards problem and pushing the UK government in particular to take a more active stance against over-fishing by several interviewees.
Interviewees also noted that MEPs in the Fisheries Committee from the UK had to take the campaign into account, as they found themselves suddenly under the scrutiny of the public and media in their constituencies. Moreover, the Fish Fight campaign soon diffused across Europe, spawning similar initiatives in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and several other European countries.
Both campaigns succeeded in attracting media interest and public awareness at unprecedented levels when it comes to EU fisheries, which continued to have a rather boring and technical image among journalists.
With all big players of the environmental and fisheries scene represented in Brussels (WWF, Greenpeace, PEW, Oceana) on board, and with the media support of Hugh’s Fish Fight, the NGO campaign increasingly gained momentum. As some of the key activists of the campaign told us in our interviews, the resulting politicization of the fisheries policy and growing public attention helped convince MEPs, who were otherwise not particularly interested in the CFP reform .
Now, however, it became possible for those MEPs to gain the moral high ground and ‘vote green’ for a celebrated cause, without fearing any real damages, except perhaps for a minority of MEPs from fishing countries, who may have supported weaker regulations in fisheries otherwise." 
 A narrative analysis of European Fisheries Policy 

Europeche summarized in an open letter to the NGO Pew Charity Trust the feelings of the sector to the organization after the publication last March, the report "Changing Course: end overfishing in North Western Europe." The document denounced the "dramatic" expansion of fisheries in northwestern Europe in recent decades, due to foraging and benefits; He denounced the warnings of scientists and NGOs to end this situation had been ignored; He pointed to the situation of overfishing in the area; and it placed the PPC as a tool to restore populations. In his letter, Europeche harshly criticizes the organization for these claims, which are "false and contrary to scientific opinion," in his opinion.

The letter of the sector begins by recalling the words of Eskild Kirkegaard, Chairman of the ICES advisory committee on the recent seminar on stocks held in Brussels. At the meeting, according Europeche, the scientist stressed the overall decline it had experienced fishing mortality in the last 15 years both in the northeast Atlantic and the Baltic. The forum highlighted how the measures taken had been successful and that "increasing trends in population sizes of most of the stocks of commercial importance" were observed. He also stressed the progress achieved in the MSY target of "majority" of the population.

On this basis, the letter, signed by the president of Europeche, Javier Garat- considered "false and misleading" statements contained in this document. "The reasons remain unclear, it is not a matter of misinterpretation of data. These statements are clearly part of a coherent organized campaign to influence legislators "Garat criticism in hard writing. Europeche president believes that "it is increasingly difficult to accept that Pew acting in good faith and deliberately misleading when it publishes reports like this."

Europeche emphasizes the "legitimate and important" role played by NGOs. Its activity "is healthy for industry managers when it comes to accountability for actions and practices." To Garat, the sector has "room for better", and NGOs could play an important role in this regard. However, Pew urges to "examine their own motives" and analyze "what is achieved by publication of these deliberately misleading statements." Further it considers that only get reports like this rigor subtract the organization against "serious and rational" NGO, which results in a lower weight and impact in the discussion forums, such as advisory councils.

Translation of the original story in French courtesy of Google.