Fishing for votes: Election special

Not sure who to vote for at the next election? Tired of hearing about the economy and all the immigration? Same here.

But before you decide to forget about it all and go fishing with that new fly fishing reel you’ve been planning to buy, listen up. Fishing could actually be the clincher when it comes to where you place your vote.

In the world of 2015 fishing policies, sustainability is the hot topic. It’s common knowledge that fish stocks are shrinking whilst the demand for fish is increasing, so it’s essential that vulnerable areas are protected. The flip side is that there is a fishing industry and livelihoods to safeguard too. But which side of the argument do these parties fall on?

Conservative – An eye on sustainability, but the economy key

Conservative Party Logo

Image source: Conservative Party
Economy most important.

The Conservative Party state they pushed for radical reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy, thus reversing the insane practice implemented by Brussels of throwing back perfectly edible fish into the sea.

There is now a legally binding agreement in place, which promotes fishing at sustainable levels. Supported by setting up the UK’s first Marine Protected Zones, protecting 9000 square kilometres. 10% of UK seas are protected and a quarter of all inshore waters.

There isn’t much information on the party’s website about their future plans regarding fishing policies, so we can only speculate.

What we do definitely know is that the Conservative’s priority is expanding the economy, right? Handicapping fishermen too much with no-go fishing zones would damage the economy, so we’re guessing the blues won’t play the green card too hard and expand that 10% too much.

Liberal Democrats – Rebuild fish stocks whilst decentralizing control to local fishing communities

Liberal Democrats Logo

Image source: Lib Dems
Rebuild fish stocks

“Secured a huge majority in the European Parliament in favour of ambitious reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy to end wasteful discards, made it a legal obligation to rebuild fish stocks, and decentralised to local communities day-to-day management of fisheries.”

With the above statement, The Liberal Democrats believe they (not the Conservatives) were the driving force behind the changes to the Common Fisheries Policy and they helped to create a greener, more energy efficient EU. Was it Liberal or Conservatives — who knows? But both parties are claiming the accolades.

We checked the Lib Dem’s manifesto and whilst their track record might be good, they don’t have a lot to say about future fishing policies.

Green Party – Protect the fish at all costs

Green Party Logo

Image source: Green Party
Keen to protect fish.

The Green Party’s stance on fishing is simple: all marine activities will have to function sustainably within environmental limits. It’s a sustainable long-term vision weighted in favour of sustaining the environment rather than the fishing industry.

This principle would reverse the current presumption in favour of fishing so fishing rights and catch limits would be altered to protect fish stocks.

There is a a wealth of information regarding fishing policies and the party is very transparent about its stance.

UKIP – More fishing for UK boats and little on sustainability

UKIP Logo

Image source: UKIP
All for territorial waters.

Not afraid to shake things up for better or worse UKIP will leave the Common Fisheries Policy completely and reinstate British territorial waters. UKIP has proposed UK-controlled fishing zones to replace involvement in the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

Therefore foreign trawlers would have to apply and purchase fishing permits to fish British waters when fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels. In a recent interview, Nigel Farage said, “As a result of membership of the Common Fisheries Policy, we are now allowed to catch less than 20% of the fish that swim in British waters. The other 80% we have given away to the rest of Europe.”

Nigel Farage was also a member of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, but he turned up to just one out of 42 meetings, so a close inspection of UKIP’s dismal voting record in the European Parliament on fish and Nigel Farage’s appalling attendance on the Fisheries Committee makes a mockery of UKIP’s claim to be standing up for fishermen.

SNP – Is it too late to be Scottish?

SNP Logo

Image source: SNP
A big priority!

And now over the border in Scotland.

Former first Minister, Alex Salmond, stated that fishing will be a national priority in an independent Scotland and they will negotiate Scottish priorities in EU without compromise to safeguard the £550 million it contributes to the Scot’s thriving (£14 billion) food and drink industry.

Now where’s that kilt…

Labour – Murky waters

Labour Party Logo

Image source: Labour
A bit vague…

The Labour Party’s 2015 manifesto is big, bold and bright and very clear on all the big issues.

We’ve downloaded it, but they don’t have a lot to say beyond: “We want to create a world-leading Food, Farm and Fisheries sector that creates better paid jobs and apprenticeships across the rural economy.” Sounds promising, but we’d love to know more.