Ian Hudghton (Greens/EFA) – Mr President, I recently had occasion to look back over my 14 years in this Parliament. Lo and behold, in a speech here in Strasbourg in February 1999, I said – and I quote – 'I firmly believe that bringing the decision-making process closer to those who are most affected by the CFP and are responsible for its implementation would lead to more respect for the provisions of the CFP and a more successful policy per se '.
In January 2001, I said 'I contend that the principal objective of the CFP, namely the conservation of fish stocks, has not been realised, and as result we have had to face dramatic year-on-year fluctuations in quotas. In addition, we must re-examine the process by which, and the level at which, decisions are made. A system of zonal management should be established,' and so on. I restate that not in order to indicate how smart I might have been, but rather to illustrate the sad indictment of the failure of the CFP since we in this Parliament were saying those things, and since now we hear many Members saying exactly the same things. However, one significant improvement in the general situation is that everybody now accepts that the CFP has been a failure, and that includes the Commissioner. Thank you Commissioner. Hopefully this time, with our co-decision power, rather than the consultative input that we had in the past, we can actually get somewhere. I will be supporting measures which are designed to eliminate the scandal of discards, because that is another subject that I was raging about many years ago. It is still the case that the CFP is causing discards to a large extent. I think we should be building on the few successes that we have had in recent years, for example the 12-mile zone, where management by the fishing nations themselves has been relatively successful, Scotland's own efforts through its selectivity measures, through realtime closures decided upon by locals and moved around as required by the situation, CCTV observation and conservation credits, in order to provide the incentive that was mentioned. So decentralisation is still for me the number one objective. For that reason, I oppose amendments like 253, which would centrally impose the closure of 10 % of waters, rather than leaving these matters to be decided on the basis of real circumstances. That amendment is going in the opposite direction of decentralisation.