The EU Series. No.2. The decimation of the UK fishing industry.
By themaclean, Nov 8 2016 11:58AM
This one Dutch ship takes 23% of the entire English fishing quota.
Under EU law the Dutch family-owned super-trawler, Cornelius Vrolijk, is allowed to register in the UK, even though it’s Dutch-owned and never lands on British soil.
Its 2,500-ton catch is worth about £500,000.
Virtually all of that catch is sold to Egypt and Japan.
It’s unloaded, not in Britain, but in a Dutch port and is dispatched around the globe by a Dutch logistics firm.
All the fish were caught in English coastal waters under Britain’s fishing quota allocated by the EU.
In 2014 the Vrolijk’s super-trawler the Frank Bonefaas was found carrying 632,000 kilos of mackerel while travelling through restricted and prohibited waters.
The company was fined £97,000 with £5,000 costs but was allowed to sell off the catch, reaping an estimated £437,000 on the deal.
Smell something fishy?
Any EU ship can register in Britain, gain British fishing quotas, and fish them out without ever touching UK soil. Because they’re registered here, they’re allowed to use up our quota. This is called “quota hopping”.
In 1988 after pressure from the fishing industry, the British Government eventually passed a law known as the Merchant Shipping Act which required three-quarters of the shareholders of British trawler-owning companies to be British.
In 1991, the law was quashed by the European Court as being contrary to EU rules on freedom of movement of people and capital.
It resulted in the now infamous and landmark case being brought against the UK by a Spanish fishing firm, Factortame Ltd.
Their case was upheld by the European Court of Justice and resulted in them being awarded damages of over a £100 million against the British Government.
Foreign vessels (in all but flag) now take up to 46% of the British quota.
Foreign vessels (in all but flag) now take up to 46% of the British quota of valuable species, such as plaice and hake, making a nonsense of the 13-year-old EU policy of splitting fish catches into national quotas.
The quota scam is just one of many other underhand moves that have decimated the once thriving British fishing industry.
How did this happen? You have to go back to 1973, when Edward Heath was “negotiating” the UK’s entry to the EEC.
Heath was duped into surrendering control of our fishing rights and this is how it happened.
The day before the Treaty was to be signed, a special (and technically illegal) meeting of Common Market members was called.
They declared that fish should be a common resource available to all the nations of the European project, even to those with no national coastline.
Heath was told that he had to agree to this and that if he declined, the UK’s entry would be refused.
He said nothing to parliament or the press.
Heath tricked the House of Commons, including Harold Wilson into believing that the United Kingdom had obtained a derogation, which would protect fishing interests.
What he didn’t say is that this so-called “exemption” lasted for 10 years after which it would be reviewed.
In July 1992 Ruth Albuquerque, a member of EC Fisheries Commissioner’s Cabinet, gave a speech in Shetland.
She warned of far reaching changes when Spain joined the EU. She said that the arrival of Spanish vessels would result in the loss of “tens of thousands” of UK fishermen’s jobs.
She was proved right.
100,000 jobs have been lost in Scotland alone.
In terms of jobs, Scotland, who have 60% of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), more than 9,000 direct fishing jobs have been lost. Independent estimates put the onshore fishing-dependent industries, such as fuel, boat repairs, gear, insurance, banks, groceries, harbours, transport and fish processing have been losses at 90,000.
Since 1960, the loss of full-time jobs in the English fish-catching business has been, on average, 135 a year.
What the figures don’t reveal, is the personal tragedies bankruptcies, the uprooting of individuals and families and the destruction of thriving communities with centuries-old cultural traditions.
Major fishing ports, such as Lossiemouth, that were the focus of social and economic life, are now marinas for a handful of yachts.
Imagine the outcry and histrionics if Brussels had reduced the Spanish or French fishing fleets by almost two thirds simply to make way for incomers.
According to Dr Lee Rotherham, who carried out research for The Taxpayers’ Alliance, “For years everyone has known, even in Brussels, that the Common Fisheries Policy has been a disaster.
It has trashed the environment, wrecked coastal communities like Hull, Grimsby, Lossiemouth, and dumped hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dead fish uselessly back into the sea.
No other group of fishing nations has given each other “equal access to a common resource”.
Fishery cooperation is conducted harmoniously between the ASEAN, SADEC and Pacific states, which all retain control of their own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) resources.
Spain, Denmark and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and France, have used diplomatic pressure to advance the interests of their fishing industries irrespective of the consequential damage caused to others.
Denmark’s industrial-scale sand-eel fishing was particularly harmful as it destroyed the food chain for other species, particularly cod.
People in the UK fishing industry feel that they’ve been betrayed and ignored. They were betrayed by Heath. Their plight was ignored. And they’re still being betrayed and ignored.
The same thing is about to happen to the UK’s ports industry, currently the second largest in Europe, which supports over 300,000 jobs. is a major success story for the UK economy. But not for long.
On 8 March 2016 the European Parliament voted in favour of the controversial EU Port Services Regulation ("PSR"), in spite of having been rejected twice before by the European Parliament.
More to follow on this subject…
Vote Remain and watch another industry in the UK suffer a slow death by a thousand cuts.
Copyright iain Maclean 2019. All rights reserved