Monday, May 20, 2024
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Fishing rule comes back to haunt the EU


WHY is fisheries proving to be such a difficult subject to resolve with Brussels? One has to go back 50 years to EEC Regulation 2141/70 of October 20, 1970, laying down a common structural policy for the fishing industry. This is the regulation that contained the 100 words of the ‘equal access’ principle. In fact it was more than that: it was equal access without discrimination, and not increasing fishing.

This regulation became part of the joining rules to the then EEC and still applies today. It was the consequences of this regulation that Prime Minister Heath kept from Parliament, and tried to get Norway to do the same without success. Norwegian political classes wanted to join but the people didn’t.

France knew more than 50 years ago, with the UK, Norway, Denmark and Ireland about to apply for EEC membership (and in due course her own General Charles De Gaulle out of the way, because he blocked the UK joining for very good reasons) that the above regulation had to be done quickly, before these four nations put in their joint application. This regulation would give a massive boost to the original coastal nations of the EEC, obtaining for them without any discrimination an equal share of the four joining nations’ living marine resource. The existing EEC members had little resource. Such a condition is unknown worldwide, but it tied in perfectly to the founding fathers’ direction of the EEC, now EU, to bring about an EU resource in EU waters, fished by EU vessels. Further problems were caused by Spain joining bringing a huge fishing capacity, though not so much resource, into the EU kitty. Because of ‘not increasing fishing effort’, someone had to go to make room – the British had to be reduced, without the British public knowing what was going on. Because of that making space Spain was made to wait 16 years before full membership was obtained.

Fast forward to now. France, having enjoyed what in effect has been a very nice freebie from the UK all these years, finds herself on the receiving end of the very regulation she helped create. With the UK no longer a member of the EU as from February 1 this year, and the UK’s living marine resource no longer part of the overall EU resource but under UK control, the EU has an imbalance between capacity and resource, and as fishing effort may not be increased, someone has to go, maybe the French . . .

So it is any wonder the EU are pushing hard to keep permanent access to UK waters? They need to balance the equation of their own regulation which has come back to haunt them. Just as Heath didn’t want the people to know, neither does Macron.

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John Ashworth
John Ashworth
John Ashworth has worked all his life in the Fishing Industry, as a gear designer and manufacturer. He spent 20 years working on fishing vessels around the world, and promoted environmental issues, He led the Save Britain's Fish campaign through the nineties and early twenties and is now part of Fishing for Leave.

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