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Morecambe MP accuses European Union of 'environmental vandalism'

John Freeman
Morecambe MP David Morris has accused the European of "environmental vandalism" over its fisheries policy.

His comments in the House of Commons during a recent Fisheries debate came after he revealed he had "discovered" Morecambe no longer had much of a fishing industry, in stark contrast to its busy past.

"For many years now, the common fisheries policy has blighted coastal towns such as those in my constituency around Morecambe," he told members. "It might surprise hononorable Members to know that, although I represent a seaside resort and coastal town, I have learned from recent discussions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that I represent very few fishermen. But let us be clear: my predecessors would have been able to say that they represented hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of them.

"This illustrates the economic decimation of fishing that this policy has created, and, even in communities like mine, it has been accepted. For years we complained, in my view rightly, but our complaints fell on deaf ears in Brussels and we lost this important form of employment. We have now accepted this and moved on."

Mr Morris then outlined his concerns at European Union fishing quotas, and called for a scrapping of the common fisheries policy.

"It is so sad to see fishermen throwing tonnes of fish into the sea because it is illegal to land them under EU rules," he noted. "I do not blame the fishermen themselves; they are trying to make a living against a difficult backdrop. I blame the common fisheries policy and the European Commission. It is hard for me to believe that the Commission is ignorant of the environmental vandalism that it has unleashed on our waters. The fact is that it does not even care.

"Given that the EU does not want to make the situation better, it must fall to us in this country to do something about it," he suggested. "We must demand a significant reform or, better still, the scrapping of the common fisheries policy. Call me old fashioned, but I would like to go back to the time when only British and Irish vessels could fish in the Irish box. When that rule was abolished, Spanish industrial trawlers mounted their ruinous campaign against our fishing stocks — a campaign that has arguably moved to the coast of Africa and ruined the livelihoods of fishermen in places such as Somalia. Many believe that that has turned Somali sailors to piracy.

"In summary, my view remains that the British fishing fleet has been treated badly. My community has lost an important industry, but we must not allow fish stocks to be destroyed for future generations. ... My sincere hope is that we stop this great environmental crime before its effect cannot be undone."