Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 31, 2016

Why Should We Not Be The Major Fishing Nation In Europe?

This vessel dutchvessel the Dutch family owned super-trawler Cornelius Vrolijk takes 23 per cent of the entire English fishing quota. Its 2,500-ton catch is worth about £500,000. Virtually all of that catch is sold to Egypt and Japan. It is unloaded in a Dutch port and dispatched around the globe by a Dutch logistics firm. The fish were caught in English coastal waters under Britain’s fishing quota allocated by the EU.

Why does this country of ours allow this disgraceful trade to go on? Merely to satisfy what all the other EU countries vote for. And by contrast, in Hastings Old Town, by the famous tall wooden sheds used to store fishing gear on the shingle beach, skipper Paul Joy demonstrated the impact of these policies. A fisherman for 43 years, he displayed his catch for the day, two half-filled plastic trays containing 17 Dover sole, six small cod, three gurnard and one bream. ‘I’ll get £50 for that if I’m lucky’ he said. It’s not luck it’s the brutality of how political dogma saw our waters given away.

People of a certain age will remember that the Attlee Government rejected the Schuman Plan (which heralded what is now the European Union) on the grounds that Britain would lose its sovereignty? That is particularly true in the case of our 200 mile fishing waters. The man I consider to have been a traitor to this country, Edward Heath, when he negotiated the UK’s entry to the EEC, surrendered control of them and agreed that fish should be a common resource available to all the nations of the European project, even to those having no national coastline.

Because of the Acquis Communautaire, [acquired material of the community] the only way we could recover our fishing sovereignty would and could be to leave the European Union. Edward Heath tricked the House of Commons, including the then Leader of the Opposition Harold Wilson into believing that the United Kingdom had obtained a derogation which would protect fishing interests. It was a pack of lies.

By contrast Norway understood the implications of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and voted against joining, and with consequent benefit to their fishing industry and, indeed, to their whole economy. Fishing was an industry employing many thousands of people, not just those brave fishermen who worked hard, often in appalling weather conditions and risked their lives, so the decline of the industry has had severe consequences for workers and industries over a wide area. Also, of course, the fishing industry contributed to our nation’s wealth but that contribution has been sadly depleted over the years.

The entry of Spain and Portugal to the EEC gave those countries the freedom to fish in what had become EEC waters. Spain, with one of the world’s largest fishing fleets, took full advantage of this and the seas which had once been under the control of the United Kingdom were invaded by a new Spanish Armada, their fishing armada.

An attempt was made through the Merchant Shipping Act to give some protection to British fishermen but this resulted in a case being brought against the UK by a Spanish fishing firm, Factortame Ltd, which was upheld by the European Court of Justice and resulted in damages of over a £100 million being awarded against the British Government. Instead of rejecting this outrage they meekly paid up and failed to stand up for British fishing and confirmed that sovereignty over our fishing waters had been surrendered. There were protests at this disgraceful surrender inside and outside Parliament but all to no avail.

After Cameron became Tory leader in 2005 fisheries national control disappeared from manifesto promises before the 2010 general election. No move was made to change this and in his so called ‘re-negotiating’ efforts there was no mention of repatriating fishing nor, for that matter, anything else of substance. The Labour Party apparently shows little interest in the fishing industry.

This meant that as Britain had the largest living marine resource within the EEC, in signing the Accession Treaty, it would be entering into an obligation to share it with every other member. The end result of this aspect of our joining the EEC was not apparent at the time, but was sadly inevitable sooner or later. Our fishing vessels would have to go. Naturally, the British people were not told these facts, in fact we were told the very opposite.

To understand the stupidity of what we joined up to, Mr Joy was told overnight his allowable catch banned him from taking more than “half a cod”. And some of his catch of sole led to any other fish he caught being discarded. Mr Joy earned £50, the Dutch family earned £500,000. Do you STILL want to remain in the EU, with its Official Accounts being so corrupt they have not been signed off for about 20 years, or will we leave and let our own fishing industry recover and create wealth for us, contributing funds for what our NHS needs?

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