Posted by: westlancashirerecord | March 17, 2018

The Heath/May Culture Of Deceipt?

“Doing a Heath” was synonymous with being deceitful, as someone of my age can confirm. Edward Heath lied to give away the world’s richest fishing waters, our national resource worth tens of billions of pounds, as the price he was prepared to pay to fulfil his dream of taking Britain into the Common Market.

When Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway were about to apply for membership of the Common Market, and realising these four countries would control fishing waters containing more than 90 per cent of Europe’s fish, the six original members and the European Commission laid an ambush by agreeing in principle, just hours before the applications arrived, that all fish in western European waters should be regarded as “a common European resource”.

As the documents covering 1970 made clear, the Six knew that this was illegal. It was not authorised by the Treaty of Rome, but they gambled that, so long as the principle was agreed before the new countries applied for entry, the applicants would have to accept it as part of the acquis communautaire, the established body of Common Market law. The 1970 documents also revealed that the Heath government decided not to challenge the new “Common Fisheries Policy” for fear of prejudicing the negotiations.

Moving on to today, one issue that will devastate many Brexit voters is the news that the British Government is reportedly ready to accept that the UK share of fishing will remain unchanged during the transition period, further confirmation that Britain will re-imposing the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

This isn’t a case of being patient for another two years, it’s a potential life or death situation for many businesses. In 2019 it will become illegal for fishermen to throw anything back that they’ve caught. Since in the West of Scotland boats have no quotas for cod, the whole west coast of Scotland will be closed to any boat with the possibility of catching cod, potentially bankrupting the fleet.

This is despite the recent joint vow of Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson to “ensure that British fishermen’s interests are properly safeguarded” and reports that May has privately assured colleagues that she wouldn’t “do a Heath” by “selling out the fishing industry”. Well, she might well have done it already, leading to fishermen asking “Why are we forsaken?” as the letter below shows.

“My name is Steve Barratt and I live in Ramsgate Kent. I work in an industry that is not wanted by either the EU or the UK Government and everything that could have possibly been done to stop me from going to work has been done.

“I expect alarm bells are ringing as to what I actually do for a living, could I be a drug runner, a people trafficker, an internet hacker, a hit man or something similar? Well, you will be pleased to know that I am none of the above – I am in fact a commercial fisherman operating an inshore, under 10m boat out of Ramsgate Harbour.

“I work in a mixed fishery and catch quite a variety of fish such as cod, bass, plaice, skate, dogfish, dover sole and many more. It is impossible to avoid these fish when in a situation whereby I have no quota for a particular species. When I catch fish with no quota the EU ruling is that I must return it to the sea. In most cases these fish are dead or have little chance of survival. The EU are aware of this and despite receiving many protests and plea’s to change the quota system are not prepared to do so.

“They are hell bent on making everyone abide by the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy). This is an inept quota system where fish can only be landed if quota is available. If quotas not available, they have to be dumped dead into the sea.

“To make matters worse, the UK Government is hell bent on enforcing these rules and regulations. They have employed numerous people and organisations to police any fish landings that are made in the UK. The EU has decreed skates and rays are ‘endangered’ and have given virtually no quota for this species. Fishermen are seeing an explosion in skates and rays, they are everywhere, yet because quotas don’t reflect this we have to dump skate dead into the sea.

“We then have to keep catching and dumping skate as we try to catch other fish to make a living. This makes it impossible for a boat to be profitable and does nothing for conservation. Our Government needs to be held to account over this gross miscarriage of justice and the rules and regulations need to change to provide the industry with a better way of operating. Unfortunately, this cannot be done until we successfully leave the EU.

“Only then will we be able to take back control of our territorial waters, abolish the Common Fisheries Policy and implement a better and more sustainable method of management of the industry – the government can’t keep the status quo for the sake of the fishermen or the fish.

“Under no circumstances can this industry be involved in any so-called transition period where we’re stuck in the CFP. Out must be out on 29th March next year before what is left of the British fishing industry is consigned to museum and memory”.


  1. This is one of the prizes from escaping the clutches of the EU that we must not let our Government off the hook on (pun intended).

    • That’s right, and it might also be compared with the loss of an entire industry that onshore would have the TUC dancing up and down and having strikes called. This is so serious that if, as the letter writer claims “”everything that could possibly been done to stop me from going to work has been done” Gove and Davidson should be ashamed of themselves for claiming Britain would be an independent coastal state. How about safeguarded fishing rights for those who will find their fleets culled?

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