Today on behalf of 500 million Europeans, 25 MEPs will vote what the future of the deep oceans will be

This afternoon, the 25 members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries will vote on behalf of more than 500 million Europeans on a crucial legislation for the safeguard of the deep oceans in Europe and the Northeast Atlantic. A majority of just 13 MEPs will have the power to decide whether the text will make it to Plenary to be voted by the full 766 members of the European Parliament… Or not.

 

Call it democratic?

 

This is the first time the deep-sea fishing regulation undergoes a reform since the deep waters around Europe started being regulated in Europe in 2003. This deep-sea legislative process should have been simple and fast but instead, it now symbolizes how tortuous and ethically questionable European politics can be. The tiny Fisheries Committee has indeed used all the jokers allowed by legal procedures including calling for a new impact assessment and a new hearing in order to threaten this regulation; mainly because of the ban on deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting proposed by the European Commission in July 2012.

 

This provision would mainly concern ten French bottom trawlers that catch deep-sea species in UK waters, but deeming to have lost on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, representatives of the fishing industry, especially the French, have decided to gut this regulation at all costs.

 

The French National Committee of Fisheries has even afforded the services of professional lobbying firm G Plus Europe, a subsidiary of the giant Omnicom, which orchestrated the campaign of industrial fisheries and managed to convince a majority of 13 MEPs to table amendments going in their favor but against the socialist rapporteur Kriton Arsenis. MEPs such as Struan Stevenson, Pat the Cope Gallagher, Ian Hudghton and Diane Dodds have supported these amendments while Chris Davies has shown a lot more ambition for the protection of the deep ocean and for UK taxpayers as French deep-sea bottom trawl fisheries are not only destructive of the marine environment but also of public finance since they are subsidized and yet chronically loss-making/unprofitable (see http://www.bloomassociation.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Parlement_UE_Audition_-peches_profondes_19Fev2013.pdf).

 

After using multiple tactics to delay the vote on the deep-sea fishing regulation and bring it closer to the fatal period of the European elections and the change of Parliament, what last minute tricks have G Plus Europe lobbyists thought of this time to further derail this regulation and jeopardize this vote? Coming from a firm that advises the Russian government on its communication strategy, lobbies on behalf of Gazprom, has been involved in several scandals (see the Alexion case for example[1]) and has been suspended from the European register of transparency, everything can be expected.

 

This afternoon’s vote will shed light on whether or not MEPs take their European mandate of protection of the general interest somewhat seriously. The future of the deep ocean is at stake.



[1] http://www.flanderstoday.eu/business/drug-campaign-sick-child-was-pr-stunt

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