The enemy within (Fishing News/Cormac Burke)

1st February 2013 in Media

Greenpeace poised to launch major attack on U.K. fishing organization, writes Cormac Burke, Editor of Fishing News.

The attitude of the environmental group Greenpeace towards the international fishing industry has been well documented in recent years.

What began as a respected challenge against illegal fishing, human rights abuses of crews and a general ideology in protecting the world's oceans has become an apparent direct assault on the commercial fishing industry in a bid to halt any and all developments.

In Europe for example, no matter how severe the quota reductions passed every December by the European Union's Council of Ministers, Greenpeace will release statements describing it as a 'cop out' by ministers and that the EU are guilty of continuing to encourage plundering of stocks.

While more forward thinking and progressive conservation groups, such as PEW and WWF, accept that quota reductions and voluntary technical fishing gear changes can eventually lead to a sustainable fishing industry, Greenpeace have repeatedly proven that they are not interested in such a future.

Next Monday (Feb. 4) Greenpeace are to launch the results of a study that they have undertaken into the operations of one of the United Kingdom's biggest and most respected fishing industry groups -- the National Federation of Fishing Organizations (NFFO).

This so called 'big story' is to be released to all of the UK's national news media and apparently reveals that the NFFO membership includes 57 per cent foreign investment and also that the NFFO advised the EU Commission that non official inshore fishermen's groups should not have a voice on Europe's Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) -- an on-going hot topic in the UK in relation to quota share-out between the inshore and larger sector fishing fleets.

Personally, I believe that if a member of the NFFO who is an owner of a large trawler, chooses to sell a portion of his business venture to someone outside of the UK, then that is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the NFFO.

Also, in relation to the RACs and unofficial inshore groups, the NFFO is only echoing the already stated policy of the EU Commission and this is not a 'leaked document' as Greenpeace are trying to dramatically claim.

No, there is a much bigger picture here – one that presumably will not be included by Greenpeace in their press release next week.

Early last year, Greenpeace made much noise about the fact that they were going to help the UK's inshore fishermen by forming by an alliance with the inshore group NUTFA (New Under Ten Fishermen's Association).

NUTFA and NFFO have been at odds for quite some time over quota allocations and UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon has intervened several times to attempt to calm the debate.

And now, surprise surprise, we see Greenpeace launching a very public attack on the NFFO.

The question arises “just who is using who here?”

While NUTFA may, in their innocence, have thought that getting the weight of a major group such as Greenpeace behind them would help their cause, they have merely opened the door and given the world's most recognized anti fishing industry group a foothold inside the UK's industry where they can attempt to dismantle it from within.

NUTFA should be aware that Greenpeace would launch a similar attack on them in the morning if it suited their purpose.

Even if the NFFO is guilty in some way of a misdemeanour, which they aren't as far as this journalist can see, then this is a case for the UK fishing minister and his officials to deal with.

It has nothing to do with overfishing, abuse of quotas, breaking any regulation that the public needs to be urgently made aware of.

In short, it is simply none of Greenpeace's business and one can only wonder if this is the first of many attacks planned against the industry for the coming year.

Article courtesy of Cormac Burke, Editor of Intrafish publications Fishing News and Fishing News International.