It’s hard to believe our government is putting us in such a vulnerable position

John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave, who has campaigned tirelessly to Save Britain’s Fish from the EU says; It’s hard to believe that our own Parliament is going to place us in such a vulnerable, dangerous position with a transition. He writes:-.

Ever since Michel Barnier was appointed to lead the Brexit negotiations for the EU he has been clear and precise. Unfortunately, neither the UK Government nor the mainstream media have taken the slightest notice in what he is saying.

In his press statement of 20th December 2017, Barnier laid out the procedure the EU wants the negotiations to follow as everyone moves on to so-called “Phase 2”:-

  • By October 2018 a withdrawal agreement and a new treaty to cover only the transitional period should be in place, in order for time to get these through the various bodies by the end of the Article 50 process on 29th March 2019 when the UK leaves regardless.
  • The Article 50 of TEU allows the negotiation of the withdrawal agreement, which must be completed on time or else there will be no agreement, whether including a transition period or not.
  • The new treaty to be agreed will come into force on 30th March 2019, and I suspect it will be the reverse of an Accession treaty, with transitional derogations.
  • This is where it gets a little complicated. At 23:01 of 29th March 2019 the UK will have left the EU and will have become a “third country”. Apart from Barnier’s talk of a treaty, no one has provided any other detail, so we have to make a guess as to what will happen next.
  • You can’t leave the EU, take up third country status, and then carry on as if nothing had happened until 1st January 2021.
  • So the new Treaty which will cover the withdrawal agreement will come in to force in tandem with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Together, these two pieces of legislation would, I suspect, enable us to carry on trading, as we do at present, although it will be only for a fixed period covered by a time-limited transitional derogation.
  • On 1st January 2021, the derogation will cease, and either a new EU/UK trade agreement treaty will be created, or added to the new treaty otherwise it is possible the UK will be in the same position as we are under Article 50 with the transition coming to an end and no future agreement in place.

The transition period means we will be no further forward than now but will have left the EU and in effect re-acceded to obeying all EU law under our own steam.

This means Parliament will have taken back control only to give total control of all the UK’s affairs from 30th March 2019 to 1st January  2021 back to the EU even though we have officially left.

Meanwhile, the UK government will bang on about a “deep and special relationship” and the wonderful trade deal we will get, yet at the same time, the European Commission and Parliament have both made it very clear that we will be treated like any other third country while at the same time we would be trapped as a vassal state.

It is hard to believe that our own Parliament is going to place us in such a vulnerable dangerous position.

What are the electorate going to say and do when they find the UK trapped in obedience to EU law, locked out the rest of the world as we have agreed to do so?

With the EU able to claim ‘continuity of rights established’ as the UK undid the clean slate of Article 50 by agreeing to continue obeying EU law after leaving? This is not what the British people voted leave for an anything but Brexit.

The government cannot even get their terminology correct. “Transitional” is the word the EEC/EU has used since our 1972 Accession Treaty, so why is the government using entirely different terminology by talking about an “implementation” period?

Both the Prime Minister and David Davis claim that the plan for a transitional (or implementation) period was first mentioned in the Lancaster House speech of 17th January 2017. Michel Barnier, however, claims it was first raised in the Florence speech and this appears correct.

Mrs May said in Florence; “As I said in my speech at Lancaster House a period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU”

But what she said in the Lancaster speech was; “I do not mean that we will seek some form of unlimited transitional status, in which we find ourselves stuck forever in some kind of permanent political purgatory”

Here, Mrs  May uses ”transitional” the commonly used word of the EU since 1972 for such a situation, so why switch to “implementation” if there is not a difference of meaning?  No one seems to have offered us any real answer.

In the House of Lords Select Committee session of 13th December 2017 asked what the difference was between transition and implementation but was not given an answer – what is the government missing or trying to hide?

In the Florence speech, she continued; “we believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest.”

This all sounds very confusing, but I believe the key to Mrs May’s thinking remains the words in her Lancaster House speech: “I want us to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded

I take this to mean that she wanted an agreement concerning a long-term future arrangement concluded by Brexit day, which will be 29th March 2019. She did not mean that only a withdrawal agreement would be in place by that date, with a trade deal to be discussed during a transition.

She continued; “From that point onwards, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest”.

“For each issue, the time we need to phase-in the new arrangements may differ. Some might be introduced very quickly, some might take longer.”

Her original objectives seems to be the very opposite of the direction in which we are now heading. Caused by so much time being wasted as the government deluded itself that adopting all EU law onto the UK statute book alone would be enough rather than cracking on with new UK policy to allow the UK to be entirely independent at the end of Article 50.

Instead of applying for an extension to Article 50 of TEU the Government has chosen formally to leave the EU at 23.00 hours on 29th March 2019 but then hand over our governance back to the EU, with no representation, and accepting all the institutions of the EU.

This is a situation far worse than anything we suffered during our 44 years of membership and all for the hope of a trade deal which still may not be ready to be signed in time.

The worst feature of this proposal is that during those 21 months the EU has been clear that the UK would have to accept any new EU legislation that comes into force during those 21 months.

Commission 830 – Final ANNEX 1 to the Recommendation for a Council Decision

  1. Any transitional arrangements provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement should cover the whole of the Union Acquis…. the Union Acquis should apply to and in the United Kingdom as if it were a Member State. Any changes to the acquis should automatically apply to and in the United Kingdom during the transition period.

Donald Tusk – Phase 1 talks – 8th Dec. ‘17
“As you know the UK has asked for a transition of about 2 years while remaining part of the single market and customs union…during this period the UK will respect the whole of EU law including new law”.          

However, David Davis was very evasive when questioned about this during the select committee session of 25th October 2017:

Question 89 – Mr Djanogly: During that period, will the UK have to accept new EU laws made during that period?

Answer – Mr Davis: One of the practical points of this, which anybody who has dealt with the European Union knows—as you will have done, I guess—is that it takes two to five years from inception to outcome for laws to make it through the process. Anything that would have any impact during those two years we are talking about will already have been agreed with us in advance.  Anything that happens during it will be something for subsequent discussion as to whether we propose to follow it or not.  That is where the international arbitration procedure might become important.

Mr Davis thinks we will have some choice, However, M. Barnier, made it very clear in his speech of 20th December 2017 there will be no cherry picking; we will have to accept EVERYTHING during transition period, including legislation currently in the pipeline.

This is a rather complex and technical subject, but I hope I have been able to convey just how dangerous this “transitional period” is.  Our fishing industry would still be stuck with the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) but worse, as the EU could move the goalposts to it’s own advantage to cripple what it left of Britain’s fishing fleet and coastal communities.

If the EU can clear the UK fleet from the seas it can then invoke Article 62.2 of UNCLOS which says;
Where the coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall ….give other States access to the surplus of the allowable catch.

If the government signs up to a transition it would not really be Brexit in anything other than name only as the UK would become a vassal state.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 3:- fisheries shows the need for exemptions

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was designed to ensure that life continues as normal the day we leave the EU.  In an earlier post, we explained the rationale behind this bill. While Labour in particular is concerned about the “repatriated” legislation being tweaked for political ends, a far more serious problem concerns legislation which will need tweaking because of the new status of the UK as an independent sovereign nation outside the EU. Indeed, the degree of tweaking required for some legislation which does not concern merely domestic issues is so great that we believe that it is best that there should be exemptions included in the Great Repeal Bill – in other words, replacement legislation should come into force on Brexit day and the regulation, decision or directive  in question should not be put onto the statute books at all.

Regulation 1380/2013 is the main piece of EU legislation which governs the Common Fisheries Policy. Leaving the EU will free us from this iniquitous, environmentally damaging piece of legislation which has wrought havoc to our fishing industry.  All we have to do is exempt this one single Regulation from the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and our fishermen will be freed from control by Brussels. Even if no agreement on fishing is signed by Brexit day, this would be better than the current set-up. We would find ourselves excluded from EU waters, but the exclusion of EU vessels from our Exclusive Economic Zone (up to 200 nautical miles from the shoreline, or the median point where the sea is less than 400 nautical miles wide) would be more than a compensation.

In other words, unlike customs arrangements, trade in goods and services or mutual recognition of standards, fisheries is one area where we really don’t have to worry if there is no agreement with the EU by 29th March 2019. We would revert to UN guidelines which would allow us to manage our own waters.

So the current plans by the government to include Regulation 1380/2013 make no sense whatsoever – all the more when analysis of the actual document shows that a massive re-write would be needed before it could be incorporated into UK law or else a tremendous muddle would ensue. You only have to go as far as paragraph (2) on the first page before encountering the terms “Union waters” and “Union fishing vessels.” At the moment, these terms refer to the boats and EEZs of all EU28 countries – at least, all those which have a coastline and therefore a maritime fishing industry. On Brexit day, the term will mean something different as phrase containing the word “Union” will refer to EU27 – in other words, not the UK.

Read on to paragraphs (3) and (4) on the same page and they talk about the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. Unless the government wants us to be in the CFP even though we will be out of the EU, these two paragraphs can be struck through as irrelevant.

Paragraph (5) begins by mentioning “the Union”. Well, we happen to be a signatory to the same UN agreement, so perhaps our Civil Servants can just cross this out and put in “the UK” instead. Sadly, it’s not that simple. Read on a few lines and you come across a reference to a decision by the EU Council. That doesn’t apply to us any more so that needs to be changed.

Given the document is 40 pages long, I won’t bore you with going through the other pages in detail, but the absurdity of repatriating this Regulation must already be apparent. Every reference to “union”, “member states” “Commission” and so on will need alteration. Why bother with a piece of legislation which is so flawed? Scroll through it in its entirety and there are numerous references to quotas. UK fishermen do not want a quota system on independence. Our booklet Seizing the Moment,written by John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave proposes a “days-at-sea” basis, modelled on Faeroese practise, which is far better than any quota system for preventing discards, while at the same time enables a much better management of the environment.

Three further objections to the incorporation of this Regulation into the EU (Withdrawal) Bill should, however, be mentioned. Firstly, the final 12 pages comprise an annex listing the access to coastal waters by different member states. This obviously includes the UK’s territorial waters which the Government indicated it intended to return to UK control by denouncing the 1964 London Convention.  If these pages are included, then the good done by doing this is essentially undone and the government would have broken a promise.

Secondly, this Regulation is the latest of a series of regulations enshrining the UK’s 10-year derogration restricting access to the waters up to 12 nautical miles from the shore, which currently expires on 31st December 2022. If the Regulation is included in UK law featuring any wording implying that restricting access to any part of the waters around the UK is subject to agreement with Brussels, then we have in effect granted the EU a right to continue dictating who may or may not fish in our waters. This is unacceptable.

Finally, if anything resembling Regulation 1380/2013 ends up on the UK statute books after Brexit, even if it has been heavily amended, it will be scrutinised in minute detail by, among others, the French, who will seek to find any opportunity they can to take us to an international court and challenge our decision to repatriate our fishing policy.  Given that so much of this document needs to be deleted or amended to make any sense and that there is plenty of scope for ambiguity creeping in, the threat of a legal challenge adds still further to the reasons for saying that excluding it from the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in its entirety is the only sensible approach to take. Fishing for Leave has the expertise to devise a fishing policy in 18 months – one which will revitalise our coastal communities after years of decline. If even a heavily amended version of this Regulation finds its way onto the UK statute books, it will not be truly Brexit for an industry that has campaigned so long for the return of fisheries to UK control. Given the appalling way in which previous Conservative governments have betrayed our fishermen, this present administration must not be allowed to bungle this great opportunity to right an historic wrong. Thankfully, one Conservative MP has already flagged up the potential problems a bungled fisheries Brexit would cause. We can but hope his colleagues will take heed.

 

Could fisheries prick the SNP’s bubble in Scotland?

The roots of the SNP lie in the coastal communities, especially the fishing communities that in the 1960s were safe Conservative seats. It was Edward Heath’s surrender of our fishing industry which  provided the impetus for SNP’s subsequent growth. Alex Salmond, the previous leader of the SNP, once put forward a private members Bill to take back control of UK fishing grounds of 200 nautical miles/median line zone during his first stint as a Westminster MP.

How times have changed! Power has gone to the SNP’s head and now they do not want to be in an union with the UK but want Scotland to be part of the Union of the EU.

But what would happen if, following Brexit, Scotland voted for independence and then re-joined the EU? The membership terms are unequivocal: Scotland would have to hand back her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the EU on the basis of equal access to a common resource without discrimination, and not increasing fishing effort.

Furthermore, the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy state that EU fishing capacity must be balanced to EU marine resource, and with the loss to the EU of the UK’s EEZ, even though Scotland would have its own EEZ, the loss of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish EEZs would result in the EU having to reduce its overall fishing capacity, but that reduced number of vessels would have to share in that reduced capacity – including Scotland’s EEZ.

So if the SNP were to take an independent Scotland back into the EU, it would result in a further decline in the Scottish fleet, finishing off the already devastated coastal communities that originally helped to create the SNP.

It does not end there. The territorial waters of 12 nautical miles come back to the coastal state through a transitional derogation which expires on 31st. December 2022 and would have to be renewed. With the rest of the UK out of the EU and our Accession treaty of 1972 (which was the main reason for the 12 mile derogation) now confined to history, why would the EU wish to offer a fresh derogation covering Scottish waters only? In other words, Scotland could find herself with the EU vessels fishing up to her beaches.

The SNP will huff and puff over this, saying they will negotiate, but there is no way out. These are the rules of EU membership. If, therefore, the SNP is so desperate to rejoin the EU, it would be at the cost of destroying the party’s roots.

The Conservatives, who are currently looking to become the main challengers to the SNP north of the border, would benefit immensely from including a clear fishing policy on the lines we have proposed in their manifesto. Who knows, it may enable them to recapture those seats they lost in the the 1960s and 1970s and tear the heart out of the SNP?

Fisheries Part 8 – Devolution issues

A good fisheries policy could be a means of binding the UK together, mitigating the worst aspects of devolution and maybe even hastening the decline of the Scottish nationalists.

Before looking at the reasons why, for the benefit of any reader who has not been following this series, it is vital to point out that different rules apply for two different fishing areas, firstly 0 to 6 and 6 to 12 nautical miles from the shoreline, which will be referred to as the 12 mile limit and secondly, the waters from 12 to 200 nautical miles from the shoreline (or the median point where two countries are separated by less than 400 nautical miles), known as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs)

Both areas are European Union waters, but the UK government has secured a derogation for the 12 mile limit, allowing us to restrict access by vessels from other EU member states. The derogation lasts for only 10 years, so every decade, we have to go back to the EU asking if they will kindly let us have a further 10 years’ transitional derogation. Meanwhile, while a derogation is in force, the UK government can devolve, for example, the management of Scottish waters in the 12 mile limit to the Scottish Parliament. No such options are available for the 12 to 200 mile area, because the living marine resource in this area (fish and shellfish) is a continual exclusive competency of the EU. We have no derogation from this principle apart from planning and nature conservation, which has already been devolved, so therefore there can be no question here of any more devolution from Westminster to Holyrood.  We don’t have the power to devolve anyting further.

The full devolution of the 12 mile limit has not been a bad thing, because the inshore sector is best managed at a local level. Unfortunately, the Scottish Parliament seems to be more interested in environmental issues than in protecting the interests of coastal communities, thus denying them  the chance to benefit from the rich fishing resources in areas like the Shetland Isles.  Now Brexit has raised a new series of issues for Holyrood. With Scotland supporting continued EU membership and few Scottish politicians expecting us to vote to leave the EU, little thought has thus far been given by Scotland’s politicians to the possibilities for the Scottish fishing industry without the millstone of the CFP round its neck.

If the Westminster Government decides not to operate a sort of shadow Common Fisheries Policy, all UK waters out to the 200 nautical mile/median limit will revert to UK control. This provides an excellent chance to rejuvenate coastal communities throughout the UK, including in Scotland. Inevitably, the Scottish National Party will demand that all control of Scotland’s waters comes back to Edinburgh.

However, things start getting very messy at this point, given that the SNP is talking about a second referendum on independence from the UK so that if Scotland leaves the UK, it can then rejoin the EU. Assuming that on Independence Day, control of our EEZ reverts to Westminster, our Parliament can then devolve control of Scottish waters right up to the 200 nautical mile/median point back to Holyrood. Yet if Scotland votes to re-join the EU, these waters will be handed back to Brussels and would be subject to CFP rules once again – but with a sting in the tail. Scotland would have to share in the overall reduced EU capacity required by the loss to EU waters of the English, Northern Irish and Welsh EEZ’s. In other words, Scottish fishermen would end up being allowed even less quota in their own waters than they currently enjoy, especially if they do not manage to negotiate any derogation for the 12 mile limit.

There is a strange irony here. The roots of the SNP lie in the Scottish fishing communities. Traditionally Conservative seats, the voters deserted the Tories because of the antics of Edward Heath and his shameless betrayal of our fishing industry. Now the SNP is doing the same. Instead of taking the lead in fighting for a better deal for those fishermen whose forebears brought the party into being, by seeking to take Scotland back into the EU, it wants to return them to the miserable yoke of the CFP under worse terms than before.

Such a policy is sheer folly. Of course, much depends on the shape of the future UK  fishing policy post-Brexit, but the chance to take the wind out of the SNP’s sails  – and thus save the Union – by developing a fishing policy along the lines suggested in these articles is yet another reason for Mrs May’s government to avoid creating any sort of shadow CFP once we leave the EU.

Fisheries part 2 – the legal position

Once Article 50 is invoked, unless there is a mutually-agreed extension to the negotiation process, the treaties will cease to apply after the stipulated two year period whether or not an agreement has been reached. We will no longer be members of the EU, and thus no longer bound by EU Treaties and Regulations. Legislation on our statute books which began life as EU Directives will still apply because they have become part of our domestic legislation, although we will have the freedom to amend or repeal them.

Whatever exit agreement Mrs May seeks with the EU, it is in everyone’s interest to work for an amicable settlement, as is becoming apparent. However, if the other 27 members start being awkward for whatever reason, it will make no difference as far as Article 50 is concerned:- we will be out after two years.

It is useful that in fisheries we have already experienced two occasions when a termination date for an agreement was reached, as will also be the case at the end of the article 50 process. The second example shows very clearly that the Commission learnt from the first, even though the two incidents are 30 years apart. They show very clearly what will happen, particularly without any agreement.

The background to the first incident goes back to our Accession Treaty to join the then EEC in 1972. Within that Treaty was a 10-year transitional derogation, which terminated on 31st December 1982, exempting the UK from the equal access principle which handed the competency of all UK waters to Brussels. In other words, while the derogation was in force, the 6 nautical mile and partial 6 to 12 mile limits were reserved for exclusive use by the British.

A further transitional derogation, Regulation 170/83, was agreed and should have come into effect on 1st. January 1983 to replace its predecessor. However, it did not become operational until 25th. January 1983, leaving a 24-day gap.

Kent Kirk, a Danish fishing captain who was also an MEP, decided to test the legal position during those 24 days. He took his Danish-registered fishing vessel inside the British 12-mile and started to use his fishing gear. He was promptly arrested, escorted into North Shields, tried, found guilty and fined. The case went to the European Court, and a year and a half later, the guilty verdict was overturned. Why was this?

The answer was simple. We British had completely failed fully to read and understand the Treaties and Regulations we had signed up to. In our Accession Treaty, we had handed all our waters up to the base line (The low water mark – the shore line) to the EU. When the first 10-year derogation giving us back exclusive use out to 12 mile expired, we reverted back to the original arrangement under our Terms of Accession for 24 days until the new derogation came into force. Kent Kirk proved that without a derogation – in other words during the first 24 days of 1983 – any EU vessel could have fished up to the British beaches.

In 2012, thirty years later, the Commission realised that, thanks to the increasing complexity of fisheries management, they were facing a similar situation. The next 10-year transitional derogation would not be ready in time to take over from Regulation 2371/2002 which was schedule to expire on 31 December 2012. In order to avoid a repeat of the Kent Kirk saga, the existing Regulation was extended by a year to give time to finalise Regulation 1380/2013 which replaced it seamlessly on 1st January 2014.

The lesson from these two cases is that when you hit a termination date, Regulations cease to apply if nothing is put in its place. This is particularly important with regards Article 50, as section 3 of the Article states that “The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period. “

As far as fisheries are concerned, unless an agreement is reached to change the negotiating timetable, two years after invoking Article 50, at midnight of the given day, all the terms stated within our EU Accession Treaty cease to apply, meaning that the legal basis for handing competency over the living marine resources within all UK fishing waters to the EU collapses and competency returns to HMG. Furthermore, as EU Regulations rely on the Treaties for their legality, those Fisheries Regulations which create and distribute EU quota and determine the percentage share out and who fishes what and where in the British zone also cease to apply.

To repeat, everything goes. This even includes the rights of EU vessels to fish in British waters, known as historic rights, which date from 1971. The relative stability quota share out of 1983 also goes. Bearing in mind that the EU quota system was designed as a tool of integration, rather than sensible fisheries management, its demise will be a very positive development. If, however, by the end of Article 50’s two-year negotiation period, the UK has not signed off a fishing policy to replace EU legislation, we will find ourselves in a legal positon whereby no British vessel can fish in EU waters and no EU vessels can fish in British waters, while all existing allocations cease to apply

What has to be understood is that once the clock starts ticking, it is imperative to have an agreement in place by the time we leave, for otherwise, this is the problem we will face on exit day. Under international law, our government will be legally responsible for the management of the UK 200 nautical mile/median zone, and we automatically revert back to the Fishery Limits (1976) Act.

Given the obvious benefit of regaining control of these resources and the consequences of the Treaties ceasing to apply, it is obvious that we will have the upper hand in any new negotiations with the EU over any access to our waters.  However, the UK government and fishing industry are far from united in their enthusiasm for the end of quotas and the return of fisheries to UK control. In the next article, I will explain the difficulties which could complicate negotiations – the concern of banks who have lent money based on EU quota that will be all be lost once we leave the EU.

The Common Fisheries Policy Part 8: Can we believe anything?

One theme that runs through the UK’s 43-year involvement with the EEC/EU is that our politicians –  supported by the Civil Servants – have done everything in their power to keep the UK locked into the Common Fisheries Policy and indeed, to the EU as a whole. There have been constant assurances and promises everything was being done for UK fishermen and the future was guaranteed to be better. There were glowing expectations of what reform would bring.

Yet the opposite has happened. These empty promises merely kept the UK locked into a system which progressively strangled our industry and the fishing communities. Constantly a light of hope and change for the better appeared to be shining at the end of the long tunnel but as you got nearer, the light disappeared further away into another tunnel so as to continue the flow of implementing integration – as commanded in the Treaties – often by stealth. An EU Common policy has one destination, a Union fishing fleet in Union waters.

Fisheries provides a true life and particularly graphic example of what our own people have done and will do to betray their own. But for what? This question has never been answered. We are currently watching the same picture unfolding with Prime Minister Cameron’s renegotiation package. It will be presented as a light at the end of the tunnel – the final solution that will enable the UK to be in Europe but not run by Europe. “Come with me and I will give you back your country”, says Mr. Cameron. Oh really??

Just to recap what the salient features of the Common Fisheries Policy actually are:-

Equal access: All waters of the member states, up to the shore (base) line is shared equally with every other member state. Apart from during the early 1970s, you never heard the equal access principle mentioned, even though it was created at the very start of the Common Fisheries project – as far back as 1970.
To a common resource: All living marine life is a common resource.
Without discrimination: One of the main principles of the EU membership which our Prime Minister does not want to understand.
Without increasing fishing effort: So if a new member has large capacity and little resource, that capacity has to be absorbed with no increase in catching more which means someone has to go.

On January 1st 1973, Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined the EEC, and in their terms of membership was a 10-year derogation (an exemption from equal access) for the coastal state to retain the 6 mile and partial 6 to 12 mile limit. This concession was more valuable to Britain than any other member state.

The first derogation ran out on 31st December 1982, and a new derogation was put in place, once again of 10 years’ duration, from the 1st January 1983 to 31st. December 1992, and thereafter every 10 years, the present one expiring 31st December 2022. We are constantly told Britain is at the forefront of fisheries regulation. Oh yes! We are briefly when the threat of losing the derogation for the 6 and partial 6-12 limits hangs over us, but this is not exactly a strong negotiating position.

The Fisheries Minister for 1982/3 was Peter Walker, who called that session “The CFP”. You will often find officials stating the CFP started in 1983, but it didn’t. It was merely another derogation from the CFP. He also stated “the Commission made an unequivocal statement as to the right and obligation of all member States, in the unique circumstances of fisheries, to protect this vital resource, and the Commissioner stated that this would apply to all of the proposals on conservation, access and quotas.

Of course they would say that; it was an obligation written into our Accession Treaty. Walker went on to say: “No concessions of any description will be made by the United Kingdom Government that affect the United Kingdom fishing industry.” He had obviously taken no notice of other part of of our Accession Treaty, yet a month later in January 1983 he stated: “The reality is that if the United Kingdom, instead of demanding anything like the historic proportion of Europe’s fish that it had caught, demanded a 200-mile limit and 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. of Europe’s fish, that would mean the massive destruction of the fishing industries of most of our friends and partners in western Europe.

Is that why we joined the EU? To sacrifice our fishermen and indeed our country on the altar of the EU?

Ten years later, when the 1992/3 agreement was being negotiated, the then Fisheries Minister David Curry stated that, “The measures form a package that secures the industry’s future and that of the fishermen. The policy is based on conservation and common sense.” What  conservation? Answer: the conservation of too many vessels chasing too few fish. Hardly “common sense” as the term is normally understood!

At the same time Sir Hector Munro, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, “I go to Brussels next week; we shall do our best to help the fishing industry in the United Kingdom. Fishermen must understand our difficulty and understand that we cannot concede more fish than conservation will permit”.

Precisely so. We are tied by the Treaties which our own people don’t acknowledge, but everything is building up to use the beneficial crises of conservation to get rid of the British fleet.

On to 2002/3 and another period called “reform of the CFP”. Alun Michael, the Minister for Rural Affairs stated that “One of the Government’s aims for reform of the common fisheries policy is the encouragement of sustainable fishing. UK and EU funding is available to encourage fishermen to adopt selective catching methods.” By now it was a bit late to save the British fleet. Encouraging the use of selective gear should have been started 15 years previously, but the mission of integration had to come first.

The 2012/3 period was called the “New CFP”. Admittedly every 10 years the package gets bigger and more complicated, but the management regulation still contains equal access and the time-limited derogation for the 6- and partial 6 to 12-mile limit. This means on the 31st. December 2022 the whole Fisheries management regulation falls, and the whole negotiation starts again.

One thing that did change in this so called “New CFP” – one word, Community waters/vessels became Union waters/vessels. This was another small step to the eventual final destination to total integration.

So December 2022 will be another battle of pretence. Our Ministers will go to their masters in Brussels and argue for British fishermen, who are really Union fishermen. Meanwhile the only “British waters” are so limited that the fishing of those waters thas now been relegated to a cottage industry which only exists thanks to a derogation within the 6 and partial 6 to 12 mile limits, which the other EU member states are under no obligation to renew.

Or perhaps it may not be like this. We could end this farce once and for all by voting to leave the EU. Indeed, if we do so, by 2022 we could instead be showing the world how, as free people we can manage the marine life to the benefit of mankind and the environment, rather than the driver of politics of subservient people.

CONCLUSION

The whole purpose of writing these articles is not just to expose the scandal of the CFP but to point out where the blame really lies. Firstly, look at the deception of that frequently-used word “reform.” Anyone using that word must be challenged:- What is actually being reformed and how? As far as the CFP is concrned, the answer is very little. The treaties constrain the scope for reform to little more than tinkering at the edges. Secondly if our government ministers, aided by Whitehall, can be so duplicitous and treacherous in this one area of fisheries, can we really assume that their behaviour with regards the EU has been totally honest in every other area?