Fighting for common sense in a system where a correctly ‘bent’ banana is more important than livelihoods, tradition and heritage

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While the days count down to one of Britain’s most important  decisions ever– to leave or remain as part of the European Union — the UK fishing industry is playing its part in the nation’s battle by highlighting to the general public the chaos and ever-downward spiral the state of the fishing sector whilst under management of the EU Commission, reports Cormac Burke.

 

Although the final decision of a ‘Brexit’ will ultimately lie in the hands of voters who are looking at a wide range of economic impacts or possible benefits and not just one industry or sector, the ‘Fishing for Leave’ campaign believes that it is vital that these voters must be made fully aware of the destruction and decimation of the once ‘great’ British fishing industry since power of control was surrendered to the European Union.

At the core of the anger of those wanting freedom and to break away from the EU is simply the fact that this is “not what we signed up for” — as a nation (indeed for all the individual nations who are members of the EU), the agreement was to join a European ‘common market’ which, in principle, was a reasonable proposal i.e. that a community of nations should work together as one to benefit the economy of each individual.

 

Bendy’ bananas…

One must ask how we went from this economic community to one that is regulated to the extent that bananas must be ‘bendy’ to a particular standard, cucumbers must have a uniform thickness of skin, and dairy chocolate must have an exact quantity of milk, no matter which country it is manufactured in.

These ridiculous regulations would be cause for some joviality if it were not for the fact that putting such regulations through the Brussels system costs millions, if not billions, of taxpayers’ money every year.

In this Willy Wonka system of managing the economies of 26 different nations, the bureaucrat-controlled EU power has attempted to ‘standardise’ every system of operation, every raw material used, and every item of produce through a raft of ‘one size fits all’ regulations.

But, as many people who work in various industrial and commercial sectors of everyday UK life, the chaotic and sometimes dictatorship-like workings of the EU is no laughing matter and, in the fishing industry for example, thousands of jobs have been lost while millions of tonnes of fish were, and continue to be, dumped every year under the EU Fisheries Commission’s rules.

Reality versus EU ‘facts’

Fishing is a critical resource for a any island nation’s food security and, in the case of Britain, this nation is home to the largest and most productive waters in the EU.

This major factor alone should be reason enough to make people ask why was this resource surrendered to the EU in the first place, but, it is even more frustrating for those in the UK fishing sector to know that many fish stocks are booming at present — and not because of EU management but almost in spite of it and improving stocks have more often than not been the result of pioneering technical measures by the British fleet in voluntary technical measures on their trawls.

 

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Fish stocks of many species have improved almost in spite of EU management rather than because of it

 

The EU Commission’s response to a healthy fish stock is to:

A) take praise for this situation by announcing it to the world “;
B) Have lengthy debates on how did they accidentally achieve this (when in fact it was the fishermen who largely achieved it;
C) Look for ways to not give even the slightest of quota increases to the fishermen as encouragement for the pain they suffered in rebuilding fish stocks

The EU policy of Equal Access to a Common Resource has brought nothing to Britain’s fishing industry other than devastation and heartbreak to coastal communities, summarised here in just a few main points of events under three decades of EU ‘management’ of the fishing industry:

– 60% of the British fleet has been scrapped whilst some other EU countries receive grants from British taxpayers’ money to build new boats to fish in British waters;
– 60% of quota fished in UK waters is in foreign hands and £1 billion worth of fish is caught in British waters by foreign boats;
– EU rules have resulted in the discarding of marketable fish as fishermen are legally forced to discard up to 50% of their catch causing them to catch more to land less and due to this rule fishermen must land the fish (which is then dumped and not allowed for human consumption, thus eroding their already small allocation of quota;
– The loss of fishing opportunity, scrapping of boats and forced discarding of fish has caused a colossal loss of revenue to coastal communities and Britain and, as a result of EU management, huge numbers of ports, villages and towns synonymous with fishing have been devastated or destroyed.
-Since joining the EU, numbers of British fishermen have dropped from 40,000 to less than 12,000 and the on-shore sector and supporting industries have collapsed due to a reduced fleet, which in turn led to the loss of thousands of other jobs.

Time to take a stand

While, understandably, many people are still unsure at this point whether to vote to ‘stay’ or ‘go’ — mainly due to the high level of scaremongering taking place at the behest of the ‘remain’ campaign — but the simple way to reach a decision should be to look at the track record of EU control and its control of British affairs and ask “do I want this to continue and do I want more of the same?”

Or should it be “I want MY country to be in control of OUR policies, OUR industries, OUR decisions on immigration, OUR strategies on import/export, OUR opinions on how our children should be taught, OUR management of fisheries and agriculture, and so on.

Prime Minister David Cameron has wheeled out all the big guns in his bid to scare the British public into voting to stay a part of the EU — from U.S. President Barak Obama to the head of the Bank of England, the head of the NHS and several other ‘big hitters’ .

Other scare tactics are being employed — such as saying that Britain could economically not survive if it tried to stand alone — but surely is it not for standing alone and being strong in the face of adversary is what made this nation become recognised as ‘Great’ Britain?

The ‘Empire’ may only be a shadow of its former self but the strength of this nation is reflected in the decent, hard working people in the fishing industry as well as so many other vital British industries.

One can only presume that if, for example, the head of the Bank of England, had wanted to voice his support for an ‘Out’ vote, that he would have been told in no uncertain terms by the Prime Minister that, as a holder of a non elected position, that he had no mandate to make a public statement on this matter.

Given David Cameron’s record for being ‘economical with the truth when the occasion suits, the fact that he so vehemently demands the UK stays in the EU is actually swaying an untrusting public towards the ‘Out’ campaign.

Taking the fishing industry in isolation in the ‘Vote Out’ debate, one basic fact stands out from all others — and that is that Britain’s fishing industry now has to beg for the crumbs of it’s own fish from Brussels table.

The quote “if we don’t do something, then nothing will be done” was never so apt as it is in these final few weeks in the run-in to the June 23rd referendum.

Now is the time for action — now is the time for change — and now is the time to put our destiny back in our own hands…

  • DickyG

    Cormac Burke nails it with this article.
    “Fish stocks of many species have improved almost in spite of EU management rather than because of it…” (Sounds quite familiar to U.S. fishermen)

    This article is of course is about staying in or dropping out of the EU; but what Cormac Burke is saying about the European Union’s fishery management, sadly, seems to apply worldwide—at least among the “developed” nations. In fact, Jane Lubchenco (NOAA) and Maria Damanaki (EU Fishery Commissioner) were best buddies and seemed to share the same commercial fishing dismantling “goals”.
    Dick Grachek, owner F/V Anne Kathryn out of Point Judith, RI USA