Three members of Fishing for Leave spent and insightful and illuminating few days at the Conservative Party Conference.
It was excellent to have a full house at the FFL fringe event and a big thank you to all delegates and MPs who attended.
It was good to follow up with all relevant secretary of states, ministers and MPs and to hear views espoused at a multitude of fringe meetings.
Encouragingly it was superb and gladdening that so many people expressed support for the fishing industry and how they see it as one of the “acid tests” of the government and establishments resolve on Brexit since Fishing for Leaves Thames flotilla.
Many MPs with whom the team met were fully committed to ensuring that the opportunity to rebuild fishing was not squandered for political convenience or a minority of vested interests within the industry who MPs feel are being less than truthful.
No MP put the case of fishing more forcefully than Scott Mann from Cornwall at the Brexit Central fringe.
Who must be congratulated not only for his impassioned call to arms for the fishing industry but for making sure that it is top of the agenda in a Westminster bubble that would really rather forget Britain’s coastal communities.
Most pleasing was to have David Davis and Arlene Foster cheered to a thumping rendition of Rule Britannia as they arrived for the DUP fringe event.
Such a reception from the grassroots of the Tory party is hopefully an encouraging reminder to Mr Davis and the DUP that a more No Surrender attitude to the EU is needed and wanted.
Especially with the EUs stringency to protect the political Union, and with the Remainers in Britain and the establishments desperation to kick the Brexit can down the road with a transition period that the EU will exploit to the point of appeasement,
No Deal is better than a Bad Deal. This countries strategic national interests must be safeguarded, not rolled over to appease the EU to gain continued alignment to suit those in our country and industry who wish to see this for self interest and personal ideology – the fishing industry being a case and point.
At FFLs fringe event we highlighted both the challenges to ensure the golden opportunity to automatically repatriate a multi-billion pound industry is not squandered for political convenience or vested interests.
To ensure a clean break with no continuation of the CFP new policy is needed – replicating inept management in Whitehall instead of Brussels isn’t a solution.
Those in attendance well received FFLs unique system of effort control to provide an alternative new, bespoke, discard free policy as an exciting opportunity for Britain to lead the way with real-time science and management.
FFL detailed the unknown facts that the discard ban merely addresses the symptom (discards) not the cause that is a useless quota system.
FFL detailed how choke species – when vessels have to tie up and go bust when they hit their lowest quota – are an threat to the survival of most of the industry Brexit or not.
All the delegates and MPs were horrified to learn of slipper skippers and the level of quota rentals that are strangling the industry along with discards.
One political journalist from a major newspaper commented that keeping the quota system, discards, quota rent and many fishermen silent to suit a minority controlling the industry was akin to some behaving like the Mafia.
From the packed event the MPs, journalists and delegates were excited by the prospect of the British fishing industry having the chance to boom again and were somewhat aghast at the true underbelly that keeps the current rotten system running.
Transition Period With Michael Gove
It was good to hear Secretary of State Michael Gove at Conservative Conference and a sincere thanks for his kind words to John Ashworth – the unfaltering founder of the fight to free Britain’s fishing from the EU and CFP.
A transition period as suggested is of deep concern and our thanks to the Chair of the Open Europe fringe for pressing Mr Gove on the issue as to whether leaving the CFP “would actually happen at the point when we leave the EU at the end of the Article 50 process, isn’t this really going to happen after the end of the transition process”.
A transition period is not a fait accompli but is only in the EU’s power to give.
It is legal fact that Britain will be out the EU on the 29th March 2019 and therefore, as Mr Barnier and Junker have clearly stated, the only way a transition can happen is if the UK obeys the EU’s terms and all the Acquis – all EU laws which would include the CFP which the EU is desperate to see continue.
The Remainers wanting to see a transition, in many respects caused by their heel dragging to crack on with British policy and a clean break – no more so than in DEFRA – would see Britain over a barrel.
The Secretary of State appeared to indicate that he felt that it was his “understanding that as a matter of international law if we leave the EU (in 2019??) then we become an independent coastal state” and that “it would certainly raise eyebrows if having left the EU we maintained the Common Fisheries Policy”
When pressed as that it was “possible that for the transition we continue to apply the same terms as the common fisheries policy”
Mr Gove eluded to that the transition period would see some sort of EEA status akin to Norway of being in and governed by the rules of the single market but not in the CFP.
Were the tragedy of a transition period to happen, where the EU holds all the cards, it is VITAL that fishing is not part of the transition as the Secretary of State has eluded to.
A transition period (or any other sloppy withdrawal agreement) would, when combined with the adopted Acquis on the British statute book, run the risk of the EU mounting challenge through the Vienna Convention on Treaties – as Fishing for Leave has warned since last October when this Acquis adoption in the Repeal Bill was announced.
Continuation of the current regime of quotas, discards and quota rentals combined with the suicide pill of quotas and a discard ban to stop the discards that quotas cause in the first place will soon see no industry left.
That may well be the intention of the EU, politicians and some in the industry who want to be last men standing. Therefore it is crucial that the majority of the industry, Brexiteers and MPs ensure that this golden opportunity isn’t missed for a fresh start for all to flourish as a beacon of success.