Our Stolen Seas

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Ray Finch, UKIP MEP for South East England and UKIP spokesman on Fisheries, has written this exclusive article for Get Britain Out:

Our Stolen Seas: How we abandoned our Sovereignty for the Common Fisheries Policy

At a hastily-arranged meeting on 3rd June 1970, six hours before accession negotiations for the UK to join the Common Market began, the then six members adopted the principle of equal access to the waters belonging to all members.

By an uncanny coincidence, the waters belonging to the four new candidate nations contained well over 90% of sea fish in Western Europe. In 1970 fishermen from Boulogne, Brittany and Normandy caught 65% of their fish inside the UK´s Exclusive Economic Zone (“EEZ”) and 20% inside the Norwegian and Faroes´ waters. It was nothing less than a stitch-up. It showed the then Prime Minister Edward Heath´s desperation to get Britain into the EEC at any cost. He was desperate and was prepared to surrender Britain´s primary natural resource.

The tiny volume of fish which British fishermen are allowed to land these days is reduced further by the process known as “quota hopping”. The Factortame Judgement overruled an attempt by the British government to apply residence and nationality conditions before giving British registration to vessels. This was the first time the European Court of Justice had subordinated a Member State´s Act of Parliament.

It has led to an even more skewed division of British fishing rights. In November 2014 Greenpeace revealed that 43% of England´s fishing quota is held by foreign-owned businesses. A single Dutch trawler holds nearly a quarter of the English total quota and furthermore, unloads its catches in the Netherlands so we get no benefit whatsoever. Contrast this with our sub-10 metre fleet which makes up 80% of our entire fishing complement and only has 4% of the entire UK quota. If you add this up, it comes to a situation where the UK fishing communities are being starved of the ability to compete.

Up and down the coasts our fishing communities are faced with the same issues as Bideford Fisheries Ltd. in Appledore in North Devon who, after last year`s early ending of the Skate and Ray quota, was forced to close down. The owner, Tony Rutherford, was “flabbergasted” when the MMO (Marine Management Organisation) came along several weeks later to inspect his now defunct business and Mr. Rutherford had to show them his deactivated fridges.

Our entire fishing industry is on the point of collapse and with it many, many, coastal communities face the same fate as former colliery towns. Leaving the CFP, as part of leaving the EU, is a must. We must not allow the smug ghost of Edward Heath to gloat over yet another disaster.

Ray Finch MEP

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