UKIP Fisheries Spokesman blasts Labour for trying to divert attention from fisheries protests by blaming Iceland for the fishing industry’s demise.

On Sunday, Labour jumped on an inaccurate article in the Guardian, in an attempt to undermine the fisheries protests that were taking place across the country.

According to several Labour and Green politicians, the decline in the UK’s fishing industry has nothing to do with the EU, despite the fact the creation of fisheries rules are a sole competence of Brussels.

The article argues that the decline of the British fishing industry was little to do with the EU and that the ‘Cod-Wars’ – Iceland’s struggle to implement its own 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the 1950’s 60’s & 70’s – was, in fact, to blame.

While the Cod Wars certainly had an impact on the British deep-sea fleet, the author fails to mention that, by the time the unthinkable happened, and undefended Iceland secured its fishing rights under international law, the British Government had already given away over 60% of the fish in British waters as the price for joining the EEC.

The simple fact is, by the time international law allowed for the creation of a 200-mile EEZ, the UK was already enmeshed in the CFP and had to agree to ‘shared’ fisheries zones with other EU countries.

While it can be argued that Danish, French, Dutch and Belgium vessels have caught fish in British waters for centuries – which the author does with gusto – the article ignores the fact that with the update to international law that created EEZ’s (UNCLOS), this foreign access could have only continued through a treaty or international agreement, had we not already been in the EU.

And while the author is keen to paint the EU in a positive light regarding fish stocks, he, at the same times forgets to mention issues such as the EU’s sponsorship of pulse fishing, which according to many East Coast fishers, is “leaving the seabed a desert.”

In fact, there are a whole host of issues the writer either glosses over or simply forgets to mention. These issues include the centralisation of quota in foreign hands through the EU’s implementation of Producer Organisations.

The ambivalence of the political elites to the plight of fishers and the decline of coastal communities.

The rise of EU vessels fishing British quota through flags of convenience brought about through EU imposed law.

A declining quota share for inshore fishermen, and ill-thought-out bans on the catching of some species.

While the author does mention discards – the senseless slaughter of 100,000’s tonnes of fish through the EU’s policy of throwing dead fish back into the sea, apparently, the EU’s latest brainwave, mandatory landings, will solve this issue.

From speaking to fishermen, it may very well solve the issue, as it will put many of them out of business!

Mandatory landings mean that UK vessels, operating in our highly mixed fishery, will have to stop fishing once they reach the limit of their smallest species quota share. This is known as a ‘choke species.’

Basically, if a fisher has a quota consisting of one tonne of cod and one tonne of haddock and they catch the 1 tonne of cod first, then they must stop fishing, no matter how much quota for haddock is left!

This policy – agreed by many British MEPs – is a disgrace and will see many fishing businesses go bankrupt!

I have just spent the week on the first part of my fisheries tour of Britain, highlighting the plight of small-vessels over the big conglomerates; pushing for the implementation of the 200-EEZ, as is the UK’s right under international law; and fighting for the return of a natural resource that is a birthright of this country; all while these arm-chair heroes do their level best to make excuses for a fisheries sell-out.

It’s time for a change in the British fishing industry! No longer can we tolerate the concentration of 97% of British quota in the hands of just a few, mostly foreign owners.

No longer can we tolerate a system that penalises people trying to make a living, by selling out our resources in favour of big business.

And no longer can we tolerate the dictation of our waters by a Brussels elite hellbent on destroying the 2,400 small vessels that fish just 3% of Britain’s EU fish allocations.

The people are demanding a change and only UKIP is fighting for fishing.

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