BRITISH FISHING - A NEW APPROACH


UKIP deputy leader, Mike Hookem MEP, launches the party's new approach to post-Brexit fishing policy at the

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Image:www.mike-hookem.org

Read Mike's speech in full:

Good afternoon!

Thank you for welcoming me back for a second time today.

During the 2016 referendum, one subject dominated throughout.

Fishing!

From flotillas down the Thames and the Humber; to the loud protestations over Edward Heath’s sell-out of the industry on joining the EU; the betrayal of Britain’s fishing industry was laid bare throughout the campaign. 

Following the people’s vote to leave the EU – and by default its hated Common Fisheries Policy – there was a feeling of hope in coastal communities for the first time in over 40 years!

These communities have seen their jobs stripped away by EU policy; their standards of living decline and vessels from across Europe continue to rape the sea of their birthright; while local boats are tied to dock.

These communities are angry!

The Establishment knew that once the fishing industry awoke, it would not simply slip back into obscurity.

So, May and her coterie launched a charm offensive, making promises to “leave the CFP” and “take back control” of our waters. However, promises are only as strong as those who make them; and details were scant prior to the release of the Fisheries White paper in July.

Following the release of the white paper, it would seem to me the Establishments promises were built on sand.

In a move that could send many small-scale British fishers to the wall; the Government intend - in the ‘short-term’ - to align UK fishing policy with that of the EU throughout the 2-year implementation period and use the experience “as a stepping stone for our future relationship with the EU.”

Let’s put that in layman’s terms!

A sell-out of Britain’s fisheries agreed prior to the final deal; that will serve as a stepping stone to an even bigger sell-out in the future!

And it is all very well saying, “we will control our waters,” and that “we will leave the CFP.”

But taking those powers; adopting all the EU’s rules and structures; and opening our seas to equal access, is nothing less than a second betrayal of the fishing industry by a Conservative Government!

Moreover, in a move that could make a second betrayal even easier, Gove – the supposed ‘arch brexiteer’ - had the cheek to highlight the value of fisheries as a “separate strand of our future relationship with the EU.”

The simple fact is, the Fisheries White Paper is nothing more than a lot of hot air to explain how the Establishment intends to maintain the status quo - with the continuation of ‘Equal Access’ and the principle of British fish as a ‘Common Resource.’

For many small-scale fishers, the reclamation of the 70% of British fishing opportunities used by EU vessels; and the creation of an exclusive economic zone, represents their only lifeline.

This is especially the case for those East Coast fishers, deeply affected by the diabolical electro-pulse fishing methods employed by Dutch vessels in British waters.

We already have a situation where 97% of fishing opportunities are taken by a mere 11% of the fleet, while the small-scale fishers, who were never allocated quota, go begging.

For Gove to offer the inshore fleet a few extra fish to catch - as I forecast in 2016 - while EU based flagships and a few of the big boys in the British industry continue to take the lions share; is insulting.

Any fool can see that an industry dominated by a select few, while the majority go begging is neither productive for coastal communities or sustainable in the long-term.

The simple fact is, after Brexit, the British Government should be using a bespoke, tailor-made system that suits our mixed fisheries and prioritises British fishers!

Therefore, today, I have the honour of announcing a radical shakeup of UKIP policy for the post-Brexit fishing industry.

The principle our policies are based on is one of fairness and equality.

UKIP believes that the fishing industry should benefit the nation; be used as a catalyst to rejuvenate our coastal communities; maintain and create jobs, rebuild ancillary industries, and benefit the consumer and HM Treasury.

Therefore, I think it goes without saying that we would leave the Common Fisheries Policy in March 2019; reclaim our 200-mile exclusive economic zone and severely restrict EU access to British waters.

However, what is truly important is how we manage our waters and stocks once we have got them back.

Currently, the EU allots the UK about 30% of all fishing opportunities within our own waters; which means the UK would have thousands of tonnes of fishing opportunities returned to our industry if Brexit is managed correctly.

However, it would be a national disaster if this returned quota was swallowed up by a few big companies, while small-scale fishers saw none of the benefit.

Therefore, in a new policy direction, UKIP propose that all returned fishing opportunities should be made a national asset, rather than be sunk in a privatised monopoly.

These fishing opportunities would be held in a national pool; be fairly distributed, and the benefits returned to the people of Great Britain.

As a part of this new direction, UKIP will also seek to end the sale of quota as a profit-making commodity; and put in a place a system that not only works for fishing, but also the coastal communities from which they operate. 

UKIP is also determined to end the issues of so-called ‘flag-ships’ - EU vessels registered in the UK; that fish UK quota allocations; but contribute nothing to the British economy or coastal communities.

Therefore, we aim to strengthen the economic link in the Merchant Shipping Act, in order to ensure that British flagged vessels, using British fishing opportunities, contribute!

By revisiting some of the measures put forward in the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act, - UKIP would demand that all fish caught within the UK’s EEZ – including those fished by foreign-flagged vessels operating under licence, are landed and sold in the UK.

This would help finance and attract investment in the fishing industry and support struggling fishing communities.

We, as a party, would also eliminate the disgrace of discards from UK fisheries.

Using a bespoke mandatory landing system for all commercial fisheries, fish caught out of quota would be sold at market value, and any profits from the sale will be used to fund fisheries science and management; rather than being dumped in a skip as the EU demands!

However, none of these proposals can be achieved in isolation!

Therefore, it is our intention to launch an inclusive and collaborative consultation period with all sectors of the fishing community to culminate in the creation of a new Fisheries Mechanisms Bill.

The new bill will detail the mechanisms set out in law of how, where and when fish may be caught and the systems to be used to ensure that Britain’s fish stocks remain healthy and sustainable.

The Fisheries Management Bill will also include measures to ring-fence a proportion of the National Quota Pool to help rebuild the fishing industry at grassroots level.

To aid this development, UKIP would kick-start a civil ship and boat building programme for the growing fishing industry, in line with the World Trade Organisations Trade-Related Technical Assistance programmes, which would provide further skilled employment in economically depressed coastal areas. 

Following the recent ‘Scallop Wars,’ it has become increasingly obvious that we cannot protect our fleet, our rights, or our waters. 

Therefore, UKIP commits to creating, training and equipping a new, dedicated Coastal Protection Force that will use a mixture of sea and land-based technologies to make sure the rules are abided by, both nationally and internationally.

All in all, the British fishing industry must be made to work for Britain. Done correctly, the fishing industry is worth £6.3 billion to our economy and a much-needed shot in the arm to many struggling communities across the country.

Brexit is our time and our opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past and get fishers fishing away.

Thank you!

 

 

 

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Article first uploaded 25 September - 2018
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