08 July 2008

Subsidising fisheries destruction...a continuing story

I can't put it any more forcefully than George Monbiot in the Guardian of 8 July:
The [EU] fishermen make two demands, which are taken up by politicians in coastal regions all over the world: they must be allowed to destroy their own livelihoods, and the rest of us should pay for it. Over seven years, European taxpayers will be giving this industry €3.8bn. Some of this money is used to take boats out of service and to find other jobs for fishermen; but the rest is used to equip boats with new engines and new gear, to keep them on the water, to modernise ports and landing sites; and to promote and market the catch. Except for the funds used to re-train fishermen or help them into early retirement, there is no justification for this spending. At least farmers can argue - often falsely - that they are the "stewards of the countryside". But what possible argument is there for keeping more fishermen afloat than the fish population can bear?
EU politicians are not stupid. They know what they are doing. But they cannot summon up the will to change it. They are, like the rest of us, prisoners of a dysfunctional political system. It speaks volumes that these politicians lead what are probably the least corrupt regimes in the history of mankind. What chance then that they, or governments anywhere else, will tackle the really serious problems, where even the smallest step will create far more losers than even a complete dismantling of EU fisheries?

Very little, I'd say. We need a policymaking system that transcends sectoral, entrenched interests. A Social Policy Bond regime would be a good start: by expressing policy in terms of clear, meaningful outcomes, it would see more public participation and more willingness to do things that are unpopular but necessary.

No comments: