Written by Norwegian fishing skipper Per-Roger Vikten. Translated by Helle Hagenau.
Together with a colleague, I recently visited England and Scotland — a visit that made a strong impression on me.
We arrived in Manchester, went to Grimsby and traveled north to Peterhead, making a number of stops en route.
During the trip, we met several fishermen and others who told us what it is like to live and work under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – stories that were a revelation to me and that will remain with me for quite some time.
I thought I knew how the EU worked, but the reality was beyond my wildest imaginings.
I am delighted that the Norwegian people voted ‘No’ in 1972 and 1994 to joining the European Union. We are more fortunate than we can imagine as a result of these referendums.
We govern our own country. We have control over our borders, land and fisheries zones, as well as over our natural resources. And the latter have reached a sustainable level for the foreseeable future because of our national control and management. The EU can only look on from the sidelines.
When it comes to the natural resources off the Norwegian coast, in the North Sea and the Barents Sea, we harvest invaluable riches that benefit Norway as a nation.
These resources also provide a livelihood for local communities along the entire coast because the fish are delivered to local facilities.
The consequences of the CFP were evident on our trip. In reality, many local communities have been allowed to die out for the benefit of big business interests in other EU member states.
What upset me most was the fact the Britain’s own fishermen are treated like poor tenant farmers in their own waters, while Spaniards, Portuguese and others have virtually free access everywhere.
Imagine the growth the UK would experience along the whole coast if the people voted to leave the European Union. The value of these natural resources could be used to build a fishing industry in your country producing products that are in demand all over the world.
That is what is happening in Norway today. The international market is much bigger than the EU market, something that is becoming more and more apparent as time passes.
As regards the UK, the natural resources that are within your zones would belong to the British people. The EU cannot deny you that right.
The UK would become a negotiation partner alongside Norway when deciding the allocation of cod, pollock and haddock in the Barents Sea, and other species in the North Sea and elsewhere.
I would like to invite the British authorities to include representatives from the fishermen’s associations in the negotiations because that would produce the best result for the fishermen and the local communities.
You would also experience the EU states with tears in their eyes, envying you the wealth that the management of these resources would create for your country.
Do not listen to the scaremongering from ministers and politicians, which is strikingly similar to what EU supporters in Norway said in 1972 and 1994 – scare stories that never materialized.
Reality proved them wrong!
I call on you to participate in the referendum on 23 June and vote to leave the EU.