AUDIO (Quadrant, ITV)
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was one of only three British representatives invited to an EU Commission 'High Level Meeting on eradicating discards
' today in Brussels, dealing with changes in the EU's fish discard policy
Speaking in response to a speech by EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Nigel Farage said:
"This new EU fish discard policy is a red herring for a British fishing industry almost dead in the water.
"For the British fishing industry, any changes will come too late. When we try to ban discards on a catch quota policy, which seems to be favoured over a days-at-sea policy, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
will find that the British fishing industry is not just 'feeling the pinch', but is already dying on its feet.
"We need urgent government action and repatriation of UK fisheries control, not just EU PR stunts to appease celebrities and public anger.
"Commissioner Damanaki has responded to what she sees as huge public pressure stirred up by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's campaign, adding she desires to see a total ban on discards.
"While we welcome this intention, I note it has taken 28 years of Economic and Ecological disaster for the European Commission to finally wake up to this public outcry.
"There are huge problems in implementing this aspiration because there are huge differences between the approach of Mediterranean and North Sea countries. I have no doubt it will take a long time to exert change, and in the time being, vast quantities of fish will still be discarded.
"As one of only three British reps invited to the meeting [along with UK MInister Richard Benyon, and Tory MEP Julie Girling], I was amused to find that the second person to address us, just after the Commissioner, was a minister from a land-locked country - Hungary. Quite amazing."
UKIP has long been opposed to the EU fish discard policy and believes that only return of national control of UK fisheries policy will encourage responsible harvesting of fish and ensure the protection of fish stocks in British waters.