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Farage makes a fishy claim – but he’s to blame

by Jonathan Spink | 12.08.2019

The Brexit Party leader claimed at the weekend that our “gutless” civil service will be to blame for illegal fishing in our waters if we crash out of the EU. He is wrong. It will actually be the hardline Brexiters such as Nigel Farage himself, who will be the culprits.

The Brexit Party leader should know that if we leave the EU with no deal, we will have no agreement over many issues, including fishing. Norway and Iceland can stop illegal fishing in their waters because they have negotiated a treaty with the EU that protects their fishing interests, something the UK will lack if we crash out with no deal.  

In such a scenario, we will have 12 vessels to monitor a space three times the size of the UK. An internal government email seen by Sky News says: “We are not on an overly strong footing to get ahead of the potential claims that could arise.”

By promoting crashing out with no deal, without the treaty protection that Iceland and Norway enjoy, Farage is advocating a situation that will hurt the British fishing industry. It’s not surprising that his grasp of fishing law is so poor, seeing as he only turned up to one out of 42 meetings of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee in the three years he was a member.

More than 70% of UK seafood exports go to the EU, while a third of the seafood we import comes from the EU. Both the UK fishing industry and consumers benefit from our relationship with the EU – allowing us to export fish such as mackerel that other countries like to eat and to import fish like tuna that we enjoy. 

By working together on conservation in our oceans, trade and protecting fishing rights, we gain so much more from remaining in the EU than leaving. 

Edited by Hugo Dixon

9 Responses to “Farage makes a fishy claim – but he’s to blame”

  • Ummm…….seems a little strange to think that having total control of our waters could be construed as a bad thing!!!
    I accept there will be issues to start with in the event of a no deal but we will have the ace hand in future negotiations with regards to our fishing resource. If we have to increase the number of monitoring vessels then so be it. The increased value of our fishing waters will help to pay for that.

  • Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear as Farage would say.
    Total control of our waters. You don’t know much about fishing do you?

    70% of the fish our fisherman catch goes to the EU because Brits don’t want to eat it. If there is no deal, the EU can refuse to import those fish, ( because their own boats also catch them) therefore 70% of the British catch will be thrown away unless we can persuade Brits to develop a liking for them.
    Of course the fish can be frozen and shipped halfway round the world, but at a cost and assuming the rest of the world wants to buy it.
    If they can’t sell their catch to our neighbours in the EU our British fishermen will go bankrupt in no time at all.

    At the same time, we import 30% of the kinds of fish Brits do like to eat from the EU. The Europeans also like eating those fish, so they won’t be wasted.
    But if we stop importing those fish because we don’t have a trade deal with the EU the cost of fish such as cod, haddock, plaice and tuna in the UK will rocket due to lack of fish going to the shops. That will mean people on lower incomes won’t be able to afford them. Then even the fish on the counters will go unsold unless the price drops again.
    Not only will that be a tragic waste of fish, it will also put our fishermen out of business because they won’t be able to sell their fish in the UK at a price that enables them to keep going.

    What do you mean we will have the ace hand in future negotiations? Sorry, but we have more Jokers than aces. You do realise the EU has it’s own fishing fleet, don’t you? How does that give us the aces?
    Increase the number of monitoring vessels? How many ships do we have? Do you read the news? Sorry to have to tell you this but the EU has more of them too.

  • Dear Peter, It seems as though you were with Formage when he showed up for one out of 42 committee meetings held in the EU during a 3 year period that he would have been able to participate and contribute.

    You may remember that Gove dramatically withdrew from an agreement that governed who fishes and where and for what limits etc.. He did then take back total control of the seas surrounding the UK. That is, he did for a couple of weeks until he found out that UK fishermen like to fish in waters controlled by Denmark, for example. His solution was to form an ad hock agreement with them allowing both countries to fish in each other’s waters. He went on to repeat this solution willy nilly around the areas where we share fishing access until he recreated his own fag packet collection of agreements . This replaced the well thought out and clearly negotiated joint fishing agreement that he had just dumped with great flourish and fanfare.

    Are you seriously suggesting we allow self serving idiots like gove, blubbo and all the rest of those clowns to look after our best interests?

  • Another thing that appears unknown among Brits is that many EU fishing vessels operate under UK licenses. British fishermen sold their licenses for a lot of money to Continental operators, who then used them to purchase substantially bigger vessels and fish in (among others) their British “home” waters. Go take a look in Continental fishing ports; I saw two big modern stern trawlers in Scheveningen in The Netherlands, with Portsmouth registrations on their bows.

  • I do not remember Gove withdrawing from any agreement regarding UK fishing waters as I assumed they are entirely governed by CFP? please correct me if I am wrong. I think the selling of licences to other EU vessels is a little more complicated and I do remember seeing some documentary where UK fishermen felt unable to compete so were selling up – again something worth discussing.
    Either way it must be better for us as a country to set the rules in our own waters which will undoubtedly involve foreign fishermen and access to EU markets – but we need to stop the disgraceful discard policy and land all fish caught. We will also need to be more disciplined in managing our stocks, more like the Icelandic model.

  • Brexiters are a fact-free zone; they’re so busy indulging in foreigner bashing that they continue to shoot themselves in the foot; they fail to notice that British trawlers will lose the right to fish in EU waters (as so much in the EU arrangements are reciprocal). Maritime boundary disputes will emerge again, witness Rockall. Brexiters don’t seem to realise that the world’s moved on – Grimsby isn’t going to recover its former status, brexit will simply accelerate its decline.

  • Peter, I’m happy to point out you are wrong. Gove gave notice to withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention (which dates from 1964) in July 2017.

  • Interesting stuff and certainly something I wasn’t aware of.

    Just had a quick look and the withdrawal appears to be the first step to establishing a new fisheries policy once we have left the EU. I also noted that this was an agreement with 5 countries (our near neighbours) and it is quite possible that a new agreement will be reached in the near future. I also noted that this initiative was well received by British fishermen. Some good changes I think.

  • Peter, I would agree with you that the discard policy is a waste. But it’s on the way out. If memory serves, it took a matter of months from a celebrity chef being told about it while filming a documentary, for a petition and campaign to be organised, for the rules to be changed so that accidental overcatch can be landed and sold. OK, maybe chalk up some of the speed to brand recognition and a growing bandwagon, but it’s hardly as though reform is as impossible as Farage and co like to pretend. For all of that time, Nigel Farage was nominally on the committee that would have made the decision, i.e. in a far better place to push for and achieve the change. Yet there was no change, and instead he continued to profit from the bad policy.