Where are the friends of fishing?

Where are the friends of fishing?

British fishing has long been neglected for two reasons. First Ted Heath sold it out by accepting the Common Fisheries Policy in his desperate desire to get into the Common Market.

Since then the industry and our Fishing Ministers have had to negotiate uphill from a weak base. We couldn’t rebuild fishing within our own waters as every other country was doing and had to provide other EU members with the biggest share of our own fish. It was constantly sacrificed in the hope of making gains in other areas, which weren’t made anyway.

Second, fishing has strong emotional support but a weak political punch. There are not many fishing MPs, and some of those who did represent fishing areas were so enthusiastically pro-EU (or didn’t care enough) that they were never prepared to rock the boat for the industry.

Now when the country has voted to be free of the EU and fishing is one of the few powerful cards we have to play, we have the chance to redeem. Moreover the Common Fisheries Policy has so comprehensively failed – being a political imposition, not a way of imposing sustainable fishing – that few Europhiles dare to defend it.

Yet just at that crucial moment, the Government and the vested interests behind it are preparing to sell out fishing once again as they trudge into the cage in which skillful EU negotiators have trapped us.

Only if we mobilise every friend of fishing can we stop the betrayal. Time now that the Labour Friends of Fishing realise that they should be more friendly with British fishing than Danish or Spanish. Time for coastal communities to pressure their MPs into standing up for an industry which is their main hope for jobs and development. Time for fishing organisations to counter the EU’s bluff that the processing industry will migrate to Europe and our fish exports will be excluded by tariffs.

It’s all lies. The processing industry serves the British market, and the EU is so desperate for our fish that its a red herring to say they’ll treat us worse than Iceland or Norway.

Fishing may be a small industry but it’s as vital to coastal communities as the City is to London. It’s even more important as an emotional symbol. It’s the key indicator of whether we want to be an independent power, or an EU colony which is forced to enjoy being exploited.

Skillful EU negotiators have trapped us in a cage over fishing
Fishing was one of our most powerful cards but the government are preparing to sell us out