Democrat Broadsheet - (Number 13) (circa summer 2002)
British Fishing Industry
Murdered by Brussels
Fishermen say take Britain "Out of the Common Fisheries Policy"
CFP is an Environmental Disaster
ON May 28 2002 the European Commission backed plans to further dismantle the British fishing industry in order to allow foreign EU fleets to take their place. The very day Transport Minister Stephen Byers happened to announce his resignation in Downing Street - a coincidence? We think not, it was another day to "bury bad news!"
The plans from Brussels confirms beyond question Tory leader Ted Heath's disgraceful surrender of Britain's fishing rights in 1972. Plans to slash 30,000 fishing jobs across the European Union will allow heavily EU subsidised French and Spanish fleets to replace British trawlers in British waters.
Cut in fleets
Under the plans, northern fleets will be cut by 20 per cent while southern fleets will lose just 10 per cent of capacity. EU Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler claimed that reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) should be carried out in the name of "conservation".
However, the CFP allows all EU member states to use European waters as a "common resource" and has brought in annual catch restrictions which have led to millions of tons of dead fish being dumped back into the sea. The EU's mismanagement of these resources during the "transitional stage" of the CFP until it comes into full force in January 2003 has created an ecological catastrophe.
Despite the conservation claims, the International Collective in Support of Fish Workers spokesman Brian O'Riordan also said that EU fishing techniques off Africa had destroyed the delicate ecosystem. "Not only are the trawlers clear-felling, they are turning the ecosystem into a kind of dump", he said.
Mr Fischler delayed the release of the controversial plans after document leaks and furious complaints from the industry and member states. The CFP reform plan confirms that the claims made by defenders of this surrender of a unique natural resource to Brussels are either outright lies or the products of gross ignorance.
Before 1970, the "Common Market" found no need for a "common fisheries policy".
As Austin Mitchell MP pointed out in the Commons, the Treaty of Rome makes no reference to fishing, only to its products. That the Maastricht Treaty sneaks in a reference to fishing is evidence that until then, "European" interference in the catching sector had been downright illegal under its own laws.
Britain joins EEC
In 1970, the possibility arose of the accession of Britain and Norway with rich coastal fishing grounds, and the inevitability of extended fishing limits which would incorporate the very rich submerged land masses in the North Sea, such as the famous Dogger Bank, in the British Exclusive Fishing Zone.
A cunning device was elaborated by which the continental fleets which had ravaged these waters and the coastal waters around Britain could continue to do so. It was declared that all fish stocks under the "jurisdiction of member states" were a "common resource" to which all Common Market fishermen had "an equal right of access without discrimination".
To conceal this swindle, all kinds of "derogations" (temporary exceptions limited in time) were devised to soften the impact. These were inaccurately called "The Common Fisheries Policy".
Camouflage to go
Now Brussels feels confident enough to dispense with this camouflage, and to openly declare their real intentions. The prospect of entry into British waters is an attractive bait to such countries as Poland and the Baltic States.
So Brussels is demanding draconian cuts in fishing capacity.
"Given that over-capacity is estimated to be around 40 per cent for the entire Community fleet compared to the fisheries resources likely to be available to them in the longer term, member states should put into place measures to encourage the permanent removal of fishing vessels from their fleets."
"In accordance with the basic principles of Community law, access to Community waters shall be equal for all Community fishing vessels except where specific restrictions are necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries, in particular for the most vulnerable fish stocks, areas, and traditional fishing activities in coastal areas."
So here we have it.
Fishing vessels owned by land-locked Austria will have the same rights in British waters - which provide 80 per cent of the fish stocks within the Non-Mediterranean EU - as British fishermen. Spain, with the largest fleet and the biggest beneficiary in the Brussels £600 million annual fisheries subsidies, opposes the plans as it wants more access.
Spain, which has 65,000 fishermen compared with just 16,000 in Britain, also objects to Britain retaining a 12 mile limit.
It all amounts to an indictment of the failure of the CFP.
"There will be little future for what remains of Britain's fishing fleet. Within a few years, it seems, the only serious part that Britain will play in European fishing policy will be to provide Royal Navy ships, acting under the direct orders of foreign officials, to enforce Brussels regulations in the seas round our shores from which most British fishermen will be excluded." (Christopher Booker - Sunday Telegraph 23 June 2002)
These latest plans take fishing out of the political arena and place the industry under environmental rules and regulations administered by a management committee in Brussels. This means the relevant Council of Ministers will pass powers to the Commission as part of "integration".
"The plan's ingenuity in using, for the first time, environmental powers already ceded by member states in various treaties, means that there is virtually nothing that national governments can now do to stop the Commission making its final power-grab". (Christopher Booker - Sunday Telegraph 23 June 2002)
"...in proposing what amounts to a 'take-over', the Commission is treading a well-worn path where policies are initially pioneered through the intergovernmental system and progressively pass to the officials for management, thus completing the integration process...In this case, it has taken the impending collapse of European fisheries to facilitate the take-over...to further integration." (Dr Richard North - TEAM document Fishy Business)
Scrap the CFP
Fishermens' Association spokesman Roddy MacColl said that the CFP should be scrapped altogether, returning national fishing waters to national control.
"These proposals could lead to International trading of quotas and days at sea with the inevitable financial muscle of the big players in Holland and Spain completing the integration of the EU fleet."
Grimsby Fish Producers Organisation executive Jim Linstead said that blaming the fishermen for fish stocks was "outrageous".
Even Fisheries Minister Elliott Morley has admitted the CFP had "failed" and complained that other EU states were not decommissioning vessels.
Spain builds more ships
Spain has been actually building more ships while the British fishing industry is being paid to smash up its vessels.
"It does not make sense to fund new-build when capacity is already so far out of line with fishing opportunities", said the Fisheries Minister.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Commission Vice President Loyola de Palacio have also campaigned against Spanish cuts and improperly used Madrids "presidency powers" to force out Brussels top fisheries official.
Senior Commission CFP official Steffen Smidt was mysteriously shifted from his job, sparking accusations of illegal meddling in the "independent" Commission's deliberations.
The Dane was ordered to leave his post, even though Article 213 of the European Treaty states that members of the Commission must not take instructions from any national government, and member states undertake "not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks".
Ironically, Spain's greatest objection to Smidt was that, as a Dane, he was in breach of his duties as a Commission official by insisting on the continuation of the devastating Danish practice of industrial fishing, whereby billions of smaller fish a year are scooped up to provide agricultural fertiliser and animal feed.
Since Spain is next month succeeded in the EU Presidency by Denmark, it seems unlikely that the Council of Ministers will resolve this shameful mess by the end of the year, when the "equal access" rules kick in.
Commission vice-president Neil Kinnock claimed that there was no link of any kind between the cuts and Mr Smidt's ousting.
However, Danish eurosceptic MEP Jens Peter Bonde said that the political culture within the commission was so rotten that it involved "lying" as a form of crisis management.
It is crystal clear the latest "plans" will not work and the industry will collapse. The plans are for more integration and central control. Dr North in Fishy Business states the only viable alternative "is for Member states to 'repatriate' control of their own waters - and have bilateral negotiations between other EU member states over access. In the final analysis this is the only option which will secure both healthy fishing industries and the retention of sovereign rights."
This has been CAEF's policy since its foundation.
How would these EU plans for the
fishing industry affect you and me?
fishing industry affect you and me?
*As fish becomes scarce the price will rise dramatically and some species will disappear.
*For the sake of health people should be eating more fish, not less.
*There will be loss of many jobs which will add to the cost of keeping workers unemployed.
*Fishing communities will be decimatedwith resultant economic and social problems.
*The CFP in the past and now planned is an ecological disaster with widespread implications for all of us.
*EU imposed policies on African states has been an ecological nightmare to the detriment of the already impoverished peoples of Africa..
*Further EU integration is less democracy and fewer powers to control our own affairs in Britain.