Duncan slams ‘stupid and insulting’ report on over-fishing


Dr Ian Duncan MEP has vigorously defended British fishermen after a European think-tank accused the UK of overfishing and endangering fish stocks. The report by the New Economics Foundation alleges that the UK is the worst offender in Europe for over-fishing, despite an acknowledgment from the report's author that Iceland and Norway would easily top the ‘over-fishing’ table they produced. Ian has now lodged a formal complaint with the New Economics Foundation, calling for a public apology and retraction.

In a letter to the New Economics Foundation Ian writes

'Your publication, ‘Who is to blame for overfishing in Northern European Waters?’ falls well below the standards of accuracy and quality acceptable from a body that claims to be one of the UK’s leading think tanks.

'The allocation of blame throughout the paper is unhelpful to ongoing sustainability efforts, but more importantly it is factually wrong.  The implication that since the UK catches the greatest share of fish stocks and several of these stocks are overfished, the UK is therefore the greatest ‘driver’ of over-fishing in the EU is pseudo-logic of the worst kind.   As I explained to the author, the Total Allowable Catches for the bulk of northern species are set by negotiation between the EU and Norway (not during the December Council, as the authors claimed).  To assert that the UK is the principle driver in these negotiations is to misunderstand completely the nature of the negotiations, and to downplay the role of Norway to the point of gross inaccuracy.

'The authors treat each fish species as if they were a single pan-European fishery, which is disingenuous and ignores the reality that there are distinct fisheries across EU waters.  Further, doing so denies the efforts already made by EU fishermen to deliver sustainable fisheries in a range of these specific fisheries. Even a casual glance at the Marine Stewardship Council’s list of sustainably certified fisheries demonstrates the shortcomings of this approach.

'The paper represents a poor, partial, political contribution to the ongoing debate about delivering sustainable fisheries in European waters'.

Commenting Ian said

'As a scientist I read the report in a state of surprise, then  out-right anger. No one has done more to improve sustainability than British fishermen. The methodology employed in the report is so flawed that it would be comical if it were not so serious. The New Economics Foundation has defamed British fishermen and must withdraw their comments immediately.'

Notes to Editors

1. Dr Ian Duncan is Fisheries Spokesman for British Conservatives in the European Parliament.

2. He was previously Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.

3. The New Economics Foundation's report can be read here