Wednesday, 21 October 2015

To whom are they accountable?


According to Euractiv, The EU paid up to six times too much for fish under its flagship ‘fishing partnership agreements’, a new report by the Court of Auditors found Tuesday (20 October). They also accuse the European Commission of failing to ensure there was enough reliable data on the programmes - which affect developing nations around the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic and the Pacific - to ensure a new policy that fish stocks there were truly replenishable and sustainable. In the worst example, the EU paid six times too much for tuna in its partnership with Mozambique, due to over-optimistic calculations about the likely haul.

Whilst not accusing any of the partners of fraud, the Luxembourg-based Court, which monitors and evaluates EU spending, concludes that “the real cost paid was frequently higher than the price negotiated". The discrepancy comes because the EU pays partners in the developing world a fixed sum in advance for fishing rights, based on previous catch quotas.
But, in fact, those quotas were often wildly optimistic, auditors found, leaving the EU to pay the fixed level set in advance, even when actual catch came in way below expectations.

Even worse, under the Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPAs), the EU was left to pay extra if the total catch exceeds that in the agreement, but there was no ‘claw-back’ mechanism if the haul falls below expectations - as in the case of Mozambique and elsewhere.

Not for the first time has the EU made a cod's ear of global fisheries. Any keen EU watcher knows full well how EU management of fishing quotas has utterly decimated the West African coastal economies, which is in part a contributory factor to the Ebola outbreak as civil society has broken down.

As to actually preserving tuna fish, again it is founding wanting. Just recently we've been looking at EU regulations and how the technical law making is inherited from further up the global chain, but the same is also true of EU council decisions, which are an often overlooked area of EU law. In one such decision pertaining to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Senegal we are unsurprised by what we find.

The aim of the Protocol is to grant fishing opportunities to European Union vessels in Senegalese waters taking into account available scientific assessments, in particular those of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF), and in accordance with the best scientific advice and the recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The EU delegates to ICCAT having no inherent expertise of its own.

Again, we ask what the EU is actually for? Evidently it is not very good at trade and if we are going to delegate to international organisations then the UK has proven itself perfectly capable and willing in that regard. Why not cut out the middleman?

But then there's a much greater concern here. To whom are these international organisations accountable? The ICCAT's own record in preserving Tuna stocks is so bad that even the WWF, one if it's transnational bedfellows, has publicly condemned it. A panel hired by the commission to review itself actually said that the commission’s management, particularly of bluefin tuna, “is widely regarded as an international disgrace and the international community which has entrusted the management of this iconic species to ICCAT deserve better performance from ICCAT than it has received to date.”

It seems to me that if we actually care about fishing then we need to have our own voice at the global level, not only for undoing some of the damage of the CFP, but to prevent the EU and it's careless delegations from wrecking the seas of Africa and the Atlantic. The EU and the international community has proven incapable of securing good deals for us and has manifestly failed in preserving fish stocks. It's bad for the seas and it bad for us. Unless we leave, they will rape the seas to extinction while ripping us off in the process.

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