FISHERIES COMMITTEE

JOHN’S ROLE IN THE COMMITTEE:

The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee is responsible for scrutinising the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and other aspects of maritime development. The Committee is working towards the long-term viability of the marine environment and fish stocks, the livelihoods of fishermen and the future of fisheries-related industries and coastal communities.

John represents the ECR Group and the UK Conservative delegation as a member on the Fisheries Committee. He is leading several legislative files through the committee:

– Opinion on the EU Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy on behalf of the Fisheries committee

– Own-initiative report for the optimisation of the value chain in the EU fishing sector

–  Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Mauritius.

JOHN’S PRIORITES IN THE FISHERIES COMMITTEE:

Brexit

Upon exit from the EU, John wants the U.K. to become an independent coastal state. John has been vocal about wanting the U.K. to take back control of its coastal waters from zero to 200 nautical miles:  the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has regulated all fishing practices, from 12 nautical miles from coastline to 200 nautical miles, in all sea basins, in blanket fashion. Conservation measures, for example, that were needed in the Mediterranean Sea or the Baltic Sea were imposed in the North Sea and the English Channel with devastating results.

England’s East coast has seen a massive decline in the number of fishing vessels over the past four decades. The infamous December Council has often left British fishermen wondering why they are being stopped from catching fish on their doorstep. Upon leaving the EU, John firmly believes that the British Government should determine how and what British fishermen will catch, land and document.

John meeting with representatives of the East of England’s Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance

Plastics

John is currently leading the EU Strategy on Plastics through the Fisheries Committee as rapporteur. This is an important strategy as the 2014- 2020 EMFF has allocated €4.24 billion to making fisheries more sustainable. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, clogging the world’s oceans and causing irreparable damage to marine ecosystems.

In order to tackle the problem of plastics in the oceans, John believes that Member States and the Commission should encourage fishermen to turn to new innovative nets, easy to track and recover if lost, using the EMFF funding already available. John wants to see the implementation of an ambitious system to recover lost nets, helping fishermen retrieve nets that often represent a sizeable investment, especially for small scale fisheries. Lost and discarded nets constitute a big part of wider marine litter and have a dramatic impact on marine ecosystems and wildlife.

John will be launching a campaign in the European Parliament to raise awareness of the dramatics consequences of “ghost fishing”, which occurs when lost or abandoned non-biodegradable fishing nets, traps and lines, catch, entangle, injure, starve and strangle fish, turtles, marine mammals and seabirds.

To find out more about the campaign please see the following:

“Don't tangle me up to die. Together let's end ghost fishing.

ANIMAL WELFARE AND FISHERIES:

Cetacean bycatch

As a leading ECR member of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, John has been working on ways to prevent bycatch through European legislation.

Every year, the numbers of sea birds, dolphins, whales and porpoises getting entangled in fishing gear remain unacceptably high. Those animals unable to free themselves will endure horrific deaths, suffering serious injuries while struggling to escape and eventually suffocating underwater.

John has been striving to be a helpful voice in legislative progress to minimise and work toward eliminating the bycatch of cetaceans and sea birds, when many species concerned are endangered. He has suggested improvements to monitoring and mitigation requirements, and has supported NGOs’ campaigns on the topic.

Fish welfare event

The issue of fish welfare has suffered from low visibility in the wider animal welfare debate. John would like to change this, given that the number of farmed fish outnumbers any other sentient animals farmed for food. John has tabled amendments in the latest Parliament own-initiative report on aquaculture pushing for more measures to take into account fish’s health and welfare during captivity and its handling in the slaughter process.

John will be hosting an event on the topic in May/June 2018. The event will focus on the challenges at stake with scientists, industry representatives, NGOs, and policy makers. John has said: “We have a duty to protect all animals, especially those we depend on for sustenance and we have a duty to support our aquaculture sector and its world-class standards. Don’t let our compassion stop at just cute and furry – fish deserve humane treatment too! “

Electric pulse fishing

In January 2018 John opposed the expansion of so-called “pulse fishing”, the practice of using a pulsed electric current on nets to electrocute and catch fish. His vocal campaigning contributed to an EU-wide ban on the cruel and destructive technique used in certain trawl fisheries.  As well as being inhumane, John believes that pulse fishing also threatens the livelihood of many fishermen, including those in his constituency of the East of England. “It is clearly a step too far in the industrialisation of the seas,” John has stated. “It prioritises profits over conservation – and as a Conservative I will always be on the side of conservation. We talk a lot about European values in this place. To allow these barbaric practices to continue, when we have it in our power to stop it, are not the values I subscribed to”.