Fisheries Part 9:- Repairing the damage requires careful planning

To recap: Some politicians knew right from the start that the CFP amounted to a betrayal of our fishermen

When National Fishery limits were extended from the 3 nautical mile limit to 12 and then 200/median line in the 1960s and 1970s, British boats which formerly fished far away from the UK found themselves squeezed out of their traditional grounds from the Grands Banks, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The middle water fleet likewise found itself excluded from Faroese waters.

Under normal circumstances, our fishermen would have been compensated for this loss of access by being given exclusive rights to our new UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 miles/median line. Instead, however, the Westminster Parliament decided to give the people’s resource away. They blocked that option and instead of supporting our own industry, preferred to let the fishing fleets of other EU member states catch most of the fish in what are our waters. Now, a visit to many fishing ports around the UK coast will reveal all too clearly the devastation and decline this policy has caused.

John Silkin, the Labour Fisheries Minister did all he could in 1977-8 to try and obtain a British exclusive 50 nautical mile zone, but as he stated in a House of Commons statement on 19th. January 1978, “There was considerable opposition to my demands on this question on the basis that they were contrary to the Treaty of Accession”.

How often have we heard that? “Go and read the Treaties!” It will be a huge relief when Article 50 is finally invoked, as two years later the EU Treaties will cease to apply to the UK.

Five years later on 25th January 1983, Regulation 170/83 had just come into force, which introduced the percentage share out of all individual species, known in the trade as “Relative Stability”, which the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher hailed a great success. Six days later, however, Peter Walker, the fisheries minister, painted a different picture:- “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.”

In other words, it was anything but a success for our fishermen, although wonderful news for the fleets of other EU member states.

As has been pointed out before in these articles, the quota system was part of the political integrationist agenda. The commitment to the creation of an United States of Europe was far more important that introducing a fisheries policy built on sensible conservation practise. Each member state was given a quota for each species which the National Governments then distributed among their own fleet.

Why, however, did our government allow our allocation to gain a monetary value? Goodness knows, unless they knew that such action would end up with the allocated resource coming into the hands of a favoured few – including foreign hands – and thus getting rid of British vessels in order to comply with our Treaty obligations.

Non-EU quota based systems are not the answer  

Brexit provides us with an historic opportunity to repair the damage which EU membership has done to our fishing industry. Recently, a number of well-intentioned articles and reports have been published on this subject, written by persons with no sea-going fishing experience. The net result has been a number of proposals which, sadly, are of little if any value.

For instance, knowing that Iceland and Norway are not in the EU and have large fishing fleets, some pieces are proposing that an independent UK uses their fisheries management system as a template. Unfortunately, their assumption that a non-EU country would automatically operate a better fisheries management system has proved misplaced. Both Norway and Iceland operate quota systems and thus their fishing industry has suffered similar social consequences – small family businesses have been forced out of the profession, affecting entire coastal communities.

Statistical and factual confusion

This is not the only mistake in some fisheries proposals. The Adam Smith Institute made a mistake in its fisheries proposal with the chronology of the introduction to the 200 mile/median point zone.

Statistics is another area which also needs to be handled carefully. Lumping all the sectors of the fishing industry together is confusing, as within a single heading are several different sectors, from small boats operating near the shore to large deep-water trawlers using different methods of fishing.

So, to take the 2015 Eurostat statistics on overall vessel tonnage, Spain is shown as having double the tonnage of both France and ourselves, whereas statistics based on overall engine power of the total fleet shows Spain and ourselves having only 75% the engine power of the French fleet. This is because different vessels of different horsepower are used for different types of fishing.

Confusion can also occur when considering the tonnage of species caught, as you can catch huge numbers of some species which have relatively little value, whereas with some species, there is great value in small tonnage.

The overall tonnage taken, (in thousands of tonnes) per nation in 2015 was:-

Norway 2146

Iceland  1317

Spain 901

UK 701

France  497

Even given the caveat about the different value of different species, these figures show the massive potential out there. The tonnage for an independent UK, free from the fetters of the CFP, should be the same or better than Norway.

Things get even more complicated if one attempts to calculate how many fish the other EU member states take out of the UK zone, because figures of the percentage share amongst the member states per area zone is broken down by species. The UK may catch as many as 90% of the total catch of one individual species in our own EEZ but as little as 10% of another. Realistically, the figure is about 40% overall, which mean that vessels from other EU member states take 60% of what is the British people’s resource. France has admitted up to 70% of its total catch comes from the British EEZ.

No other EU Member State gave away its own resources to the degree that we did.  We cannot continue to do this, but on the other hand, if on Independence Day, we swung to the opposite extreme and allowed no EU vessel in our waters, the consequences would be dramatic and damaging. What is required is a transitional time-limited process. Fortunately, on Independence Day, when the Treaties and Regulations cease to apply, we will revert back to our Fishery Limits 1976 Act, which functions under UNCLOS  111, through article 62

Utilization of the living resources

  1. The coastal State shall promote the objective of optimum utilization of the living resources in the exclusive economic zone without prejudice to article 61.
  2. The coastal State shall determine its capacity to harvest the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. Where the coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall, through agreements or other arrangements and pursuant to the terms, conditions, laws and regulations referred to in paragraph 4, give other States access to the surplus of the allowable catch, having particular regard to the provisions of articles 69 and 70.

This is a way whereby a transfer of operations could be fairly moved across in a time-limited period, with no permanent right of access conceded.

In my final article, I will look at the benefits  and potential of Brexit fisheries, but it must not be forgotten what Theresa May said in her Conference speech on 2nd October: The authority of EU law in Britain will end. This,after all, is what Brexit is about.

We trust that we can take her at her word and that the future of the British people’s resource and the revitalisation of our fishing industry and coastal communities rests in the hands of our elected representatives at Westminster and no one else.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to spot a problem with the law

One of the most frequent jibes levelled at those of us who have raised questions about the recent High Court judgment on Article 50 is for Remainers to say “You’re not a lawyer, are you?” The clear implication is that those who are not lawyers have no right to have a view on the law.

But you don’t have to be an historian to know that it was unlikely that the Duke of Wellington deployed Spitfires to give his army air cover at the Battle of Waterloo. And you don’t have to be a lawyer to spot a problem with the law. In this case, you just need to have a long memory.

Back in 1993, Lord Rees-Mogg took the government to the High Court seeking to stop ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. Lord Rees-Mogg contended three things:

1 – That the Social Protocol was improper under UK law;

2 – That the Government was using its prerogative powers to change the law without Parliamentary approval; and

3 – That the Government was transferring some of its prerogative powers over foreign policy to the European Commission without Parliamentary approval.

Lord Justice Lloyd dismissed all three contentions. He ruled that:

1 – The UK was excluded from the Social Protocol;

2 – The Government was free to use prerogative powers to agree any treaty it liked, unless Parliament had specifically restricted its powers beforehand.

3 – The Government was not transferring any prerogative powers to the Commission, but was exercising them by allowing the Commission to make decisions on the Government’s behalf.

With hindsight we all know that with regard to point 1, the EU introduced all the social chapter rules by the back door anyway. With regard to point 3, I can only comment that Lord Justice Lloyd was stretching words to the limit of their meaning.

It is the second point that should interest us here. Lloyd ruled that the Government could agree to any terms it liked in a treaty, unless Parliament had specifically said it could not. Since Parliament had done no such thing prior to the Maastricht Treaty, the prerogative powers could be used.

But now we are asked to accept the ruling in 2016 by Baron Thomas that the Government can not use prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 because Parliament has not yet had its say. But if Parliament has not yet had its say, how can it (as per the 1993 ruling) have specifically told the government not to use these prerogative powers.

Now Baron Thomas is no doubt a very clever man and a highly experienced judge. I have no doubt that were this put to him he would be able to come forwards with some very clever reason why – no doubt couched in proper legal jargon – black was white and white was black.

But for us less lawyerly folks, it really does seem that it is OK to use prerogative powers to enforce “more Europe”, but not OK to use prerogative powers to ensure “less Europe”. One law for the Europhiles, another for the Eurosceptics.

Rupert Matthews

Rupert Matthews

Rupert Matthews is a freelance writer and historian. During the recent EU Referendum campaign he served as Campaign Manager for Better Off Out and spoke at meetings from Penzance to Aberdeen, Belfast to Dover. Rupert has written over 100 books on history, cryptozoology and related subjects. He has served as a councillor for 8 years and has stood for both the Westminster and European Parliaments. You can follow Rupert on Twitter at @HistoryRupert or on Facebook as rupert.matthews1.

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The Single Market explained (Part 1): the latest Leave Alliance monograph

The Leave Alliance, of which the Campaign for an Independent Britain is a member, has produced a further Brexit monograph: Leavng the Single Market – Part 1

Alternatively, a full list of monographs can be found on this page of the Leave Alliance website.

There has been much debate about “Hard” and “Soft ” Brexit and whether or not we should stay within the Single Market. As this monograph shows, the issue is considerably more complex.  It is not by any means a  light read, but an extremely helpful and detailed explanation of what the Single Market actually is.

Labour finally set to back Brexit

This article first appeared here on the Facts4EU.Org website and is used by permission.

Today the Shadow Chancellor will announce Labour won’t block Article 50

According to a private advance copy of a speech to be delivered later today, Jeremy Corbyn’s right-hand man John McDonnell will say:

  • “We must not try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote and if Article 50 needs to be triggered in parliament Labour will not seek to block or delay it.”
  • “It is time we all were more positive about Brexit, Labour wants to see an ambitious Brexit Britain.”
  • Labour will “embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us.”
If the advance copy of his speech is correct, this marks a major departure from Jeremy Corbyn’s stance a week ago. It also completely destroys the hopes of Remoaner MPs that Article 50 could be blocked in the House of Commons.

In the Commons this isolates the LibDem Remoaners, the SNP, and a small number of dissident dinosaurs on the Tory benches such as Kenneth Clarke and Anna Soubry. Brexit-deniers would then be a small minority in the Commons,unable to thwart any quick Article 50 Bill from Mrs May.

That then just leaves the unelected House of Lords…

Donald Trump, Brexit and the EU

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard pointed out shortly before June 23rd, the European Union was always an American project. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) devoted considerable money and effort to persuading the UK to join the project and then, two years after our accession, to ensuring that we stayed in when the first referendum was held. In this year’s campaign, President Obama did not need much persuasion to come to David Cameron’s aid and support the remain camp, although his threat that we would be “at the back of the queue” for any future trade deal with the USA rather backfired.

So what, if any, will be the implications for the Brexit process of the USA electing a President who spoke most enthusiastically about our decision to leave the EU at the time, calling it a “great thing” and  has recently referred to his victory as “Brexit Plus Plus Plus“?

On the face of it, it looks like we will have a major leader firmly backing our decision to leave the EU. We can presume that a President Hillary Clinton, whose comments on Brexit were much less enthusiastic, would not have done much to help us with Brexit, but will President Trump retain the enthusiasm he showed for Brexit on the campaign trail once he enters the White House?

It’s not that simple. Mr Trump has been called all manner of things, some of them not very pleasant, but “policy wonk” is not one of them. He is far stronger on rhetoric than detail and has had no experience of public office before – the first ever US President who has neither served in the military nor Congress.

He will therefore be very dependent on a team of advisors. Furthermore, the checks and balances of the US Constitution do not give him untrammelled power. At a personal level, even if he retains the links he has forged with UKIP’s Nigel Farage, this does is no guarantee that US foreign policy will shift decisively to favour and support Brexit.

The Trump campaign emphasised its commitment to rebuild the US manufacturing sector by repatriating outsourced jobs. Mr Trump also criticised a number of free trade deals, including the recently-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. On the face of it, the likelihood of TTIP, the US-EU Free  Trade agreement, ever being signed off looks pretty remote.

Even here, however, this summary of Mr Trump’s statements on Free Trade, largely made on the hoof, does not amount to anything resembling a detailed and consistent policy position. As far as Brexit is concerned, therefore, we can go no further than to say that he  will probably be more supportive of Brexit than his predecessor has been or Mrs Clinton would have been, but it would be premature to assume anything more.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

A letter from our Chairman:- the High Court Brexit case

Sir, HIGH COURT BREXIT CASE

People who have spent all their political lives undermining the sovereignty of this country and its Parliament are now appealing to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty to delay and frustrate the exit of this country from the European Union. These are people who would echo the sentiments of Ken Clarke “I look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe”

They have now been joined by senior judges, including Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. His Lordship is a founder member of the European Law Institute, an organisation set up for the “enhancement of European legal integration” – that is, the ever increasing subjection of our law to the laws of the European Union.

Surely he must be aware of the principle that no man should be judge in his own cause – “nemo iudex in causa sua debet esse”. Yet he ignored it when he decided to sit on this case. The maxim was firmly established in the case “Frome United Breweries Co v Bath”, in which the then Lord Chancellor made a decision favourable to a canal company whilst, unknown to the parties involved, he was a shareholder of the company. His decision was set aside. “This will be a lesson to all…tribunals to take care, not only that in their decrees they are not influenced by their personal interests, but to avoid the appearance of labouring under such an influence.” Perhaps this partiality in London is the reason for the High Court’s decision being opposite to that in Northern Ireland..

Even local authorities are more careful. I recall that a lady, who campaigned to preserve the old Derby bus station, became a councillor and was disqualified from voting on the matter because her campaign was ruled to be “an interest”.

Over decades, independence campaigners have approached the courts to oppose increased subjection to the EU. On each occasion, they were summarily rebuffed on the grounds that the EU treaties were matters of Royal Prerogative – beyond reach of the courts .

There are even Europhiles who fantasise about this case going to the European Court of Justice.

It is an activist organisation, dedicated to promoting “ever closer union”. In case c-274/99 the Advocate General stated “Criticism of the EU is akin to blasphemy and can be restricted without affecting freedom of speech”.

It is unlikely that the case will go there because the relevant EU treaty specifies that countries invoking Article 50 to leave the EU do so “in accordance with their own constitutional requirements” – certainly not something which the judges just made up!

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton

This letter was sent to a number of local papers in the East Midlands area