Neil Parish condemns EU fishing agreements
Neil Parish condemns EU fishing agreements and calls on the UK to take a stand against the practice of spending taxpayers money on buying fishing resources from west African countries which destroys the livelihoods of the fishermen and communities in those countries. Instead, he argues, we should buy fish from those countries and encourage them to develop their fishing industries.
Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I thank my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall (Sheryll Murray) for allowing me to contribute to her Adjournment debate. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) for his report highlighting the problems in Mauritania.
I want to talk not only about what is happening in Mauritania, but about the agreements in principle. I spent 10 years in the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009 and voted against every agreement, because—quite simply—the EU should not be buying up the resources of west Africa or anywhere else, and taking fish from the mouths of those fishermen and families. Boats often run down and destroy local fishing boats. If we are to help those countries, we should buy fish from them and help them to build up their fishing and port industries.
The agreements are absolutely morally wrong, and we should not use our taxpayers’ money or European taxpayers’ money for them. That money very often goes not to the people of west African countries, but to their various Governments of various types. I shall be reasonably diplomatic—for me—and say that not much of that money gets to the indigenous population. It more likely lands up in Swiss bank accounts. I am blunt about that, because we know how governance in such countries often takes place.
The Minister is a great warrior, and I know he will go to Brussels and raise those points. It is time we stood up to be counted as a country within the EU and said enough is enough. One has only to go to Spain and see the amount of fish eaten there to see why they are so hungry for fish, but if Spain wants fish, it should buy them from those African countries, not plunder their waters at European taxpayers’ expense, which destroys the livelihoods of the fishermen and communities in those countries.
I urge the Minister to take strong action. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall is an expert on fishing and was able to describe the species and types of fish being caught. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish are being taken from Mauritania. It is completely and utterly indefensible.