Freelance angling photo journalist Greg Whitehead wants to put pressure on the government to assure Guernsey citizens and those concerned with maintaining local marine biodiversity that their seas will remain healthy following the latest Brexit trade deal allowing French fishermen into some local waters under island controls.
Politicians have lauded the deal as a ‘new era’ to help progress plans for a direct electricity cable between Guernsey and France and improve energy security and a low-carbon future, but Mr Whitehead thinks it is a ‘disaster’.
‘This deal with France represents more broken, old-world thinking.
‘If we get the next lot of fisheries legislation wrong we’ll never need any new legislation ever again – there will be nothing left to save.
‘Contrary to what local politicians and civil servants have been telling us in the media, the Brexit deal is actually a disaster where responsible fisheries management is concerned.
‘All it has achieved is to ensure that the waters inside our 12 nautical mile limit continue to be subject to the depredations of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, acknowledged by many to be the most destructive fisheries management regime on earth, for at least another five-and-a-half years.’
He said under this management there had been a decline of fish stocks in western European waters by 50% due to commercial over-fishing. This had ‘ruined the local commercial fishing sector, significantly damaged the sport of angling in the Bailiwick and done untold damage to marine biodiversity’. It has led him to call on the public, those who will bear the cost of the management and enforcement of allowing French fishermen access to local waters, to hold the politicians, as the ultimate decision-makers who could alleviate these concerns, to account.
In his opinion the angling community, as one of the largest stakeholder groups in fisheries, have not been consulted on the matter or any matter, bar one on inshore netting as a result of a petition, relating to local waters in 10 years.
He wants to start up a ‘democratic peaceful protest’ in response to the new trade deal and the lack of consultation with the group.
‘As a local taxpaying angler I am absolutely disgusted at how local politicians and civil servants have treated my sport and my fellow anglers,’ he said.
‘From this point onwards I shall investigate and pursue any and all means of democratic peaceful protest to communicate my outrage, starting with a boycott on all general taxation.’
This also included the suggestion of blockades, similar to that in France last February, when Guernsey fishing vessels were prevented from landing their catch. His hope is to impel the UK Government to withdraw all privileges extended to Guernsey under the current fisheries management agreement with them.