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Celebrity Chef Earns Victory In His Ethical Fishing Crusade

In the most significant reform of the fishing industry for almost forty years, fisherman will be prohibited from throwing dead fish back into the sea.

Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, announced in July last year that the controversial practice which results in millions of tonnes of perfectly edible fish being wasted each year due to quota rules – will be phased out.

The announcement has been seen as a victory for celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who’s much talked about ‘Fish Fight’ crusade, which called for more ethical fishing, attracted more than 700,000 supporters and forced the matter in to the public eye.

Fearnley-Whittingstall explained that the current method is bankrupt, a fact that is demonstrated by the mandatory discarding of four million tonnes of fish each year. His campaign attracted many celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Richard Branson.

The EU Commission has assured fisherman that the new rules will mean that they can once again enjoy a ‘decent living’, explaining that the planned reform of the quota policy would return fish stocks to sustainable levels within four years.

Damanaki claimed that we need to act now to ensure that all of our fish stocks return to a sustainable level for both existing and future generations. Fisherman should continue to fish and be rewarded with decent earnings, but only under this important precondition.

Under the current system fisherman can throw back as much as eighty per cent of their entire catch either because of the quota rules or because the fish isn’t the right size. If the new system is adopted then fisherman will be required to land their catch in full.

Member of the European Parliament will have twelve months to consider the proposals before they are adopted as law in the new year.

Fearnley-Whittingstall is probably best known for the River Cottage television series which focused on his attempts to become a self sufficient smallholder in rural Dorset.

He is divides his time between a number of different projects including television, journalism and real food campaigning. He also owns the River Cottage Cookery School at Park Farm which provides cookery courses with an emphasis on simple dishes and seasonal ingredients.



Swindon Council To Consider Takeaway Ban

Swindon Town Council will consider introducing new planning regulations to prevent new fast food outlets from opening within a quarter of a mile of schools in the area.

The motion has been tabled with the intention of reducing the number of children that are overweight in the town. The plan is to help children avoid temptation and curb unhealthy eating habits.

Councillor Dale Heenan will propose that the new policy be introduced at the next planning committee. He explained that his intention is that planning officers will draft a policy that effectively bans fast food outlets from within a certain distance of a school.

Councillor Heenan’s view is that the issue should be debated in an open forum. If planning officers are able to draft a policy then the council would need to consult with residents to investigate whether or not they it is something that they would be willing to support.

If the idea is supported by the planning committee then the aim is for officers to begin work on the policy and report back in the New Year.

He has also suggested that the council should contact celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to ask if they would consider opening restaurants in Swindon, as well as possibly offering pupils healthy cookery courses.

Local GP and chairman of the national FDA, Dr Peter Swinyard explained that it’s really important that children eat a well balanced diet. From a medical perspective, Dr Swinyard supports the aim to reduce the amount of fast food that children consume.

However, a spokesman for the town’s business community claimed that the plan was slightly Draconian. Chris Watts feels that people should be able to make their own decisions about where they eat. His view is that plans such as these don’t address the root cause of the problem and, instead of restricting access; we should be looking more at education.

The Swindon proposal is very similar to a plan considered recently by councillors in Wrexham.