While the various moves and counter-moves go on in the House of Commons about the possible but practically useless Bill for and In/Out referendum on the EU, over on the other side, where the red seats are, Lord Pearson has introduced a new Bill,the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill [HL] 2013-14. It had its First Reading on May 15 and its aim is "to make provision to repeal the European Communities Act 1972; and to make provision for the Secretary of State to repeal any enactment that has been a consequence of the European Communities Act 1972". It is unlikely to get very far but may well have a Second Reading and, possibly, the odd Committee day. The debates should be interesting and the subject of the disastrous and unreformable Common Fisheries Policy is likely to come up. We must make sure it does.
We have received the following information from Scottish Enterprise:
NOTIFICATION TO INDUSTRY
In support of the Scottish Government’s policy of developing the offshore renewable energy capacity in Scotland while providing a sustainable future for the Scottish fishing community, Scottish Enterprise has commissioned a study on behalf of the Scottish Government to investigate the potential opportunities for the use of the Scottish Fishing fleet in support of the offshore wind industry in Scotland.
The study will incorporate the following 5 aspects:
1) A Demand Study: Where the potential demands from the offshore wind developers for vessels to service the offshore wind sector will be determined.
2) A Supply Study: Which will investigate the potential use and conversion options for the Scottish fishing fleet, should the owners express an interest.
3) A Shortfall Study: An analysis of the potential demand for vessels, and where potentially this may be met by the fishing vessel fleet following conversion or retrofit.
4) A role, retrofit and Conversion Study: Analysis and categorisation of the types of retrofit and conversion options required of a fishing vessel to fulfil a role in the offshore wind industry.
5) Identification of Operational Locations: An evaluation of the location, facilities and constraints of potential operational support locations for vessels deployed to support the development, construction and operation of Scottish offshore wind farms. Initial engagement with industry stakeholders will be through a targeted perception survey, and this will be used to gather industry input, viewpoints and data. Contact with industry stakeholders will be made shortly and, input and opinion sought.
The study is being undertaken by SeaEnergy PLC, and supported by BVG Associates. For further information please contact SeaEnergy PLC through the following e-mail address:
This cannot be said often enough: member states of the European Union are not sovereign. They cannot legislate for themselves in the overwhelming majority of fields and in at least one case, the VAT, can decide on rates only within boundaries set by the EU. Fishermen know this better than anyone else: whatever policies would be right for this country or for different parts of it they have to stay within the centrally decided (by 27, soon to be 28, member states) Common Fisheries Policy. Therefore, this posting (not about fisheries but about fiscal rules but that makes no difference) is seriously misleading. We cannot cede sovereignty - we have none to cede.
Though we missed the actual day of her passing (by less than an hour) the subject of Margaret Thatcher remains the one that preoccupies everyone's thoughts and discussions. Those of us who do not like the European Union and its policies and would like to see Britain out of it, making her own policies on all subjects including fisheries and creating treaties and agreements as needed, have an inevitably ambivalent attitude to the Iron Lady and her legacy.
She was, as we know, a member of Edward Heath's government, which negotiated Britain's entry into the Common Market. We have traced the events of 1970 here and here. Suffice it to say that a surrender of Britain's fishing grounds was part of the deal. It was not discussed widely and more or less denied in Parliament.
In the 1975 referendum called after some very superficial "renegotiations" Thatcher campaigned vigorously on the yes side. She also signed the Single European Act, apparently not realizing the effect it will have on Britain's economy.
But, let us also be fair. She did realize earlier than many of her colleagues where the whole project was leading as she made it clear in her famous Bruges speech. Whether she really would have called a halt to the process of integration and socialist regulation, whether she could even have managed to do so is irrelevant as soon after this her party got rid of her in a way that has steadily undermined them. It will be interesting to see whether with Thatcher's death that particular sore will finally be healed. Still she did not sign the Maastricht Treaty, which incorporated the Common Fisheries Policy, thus making it impossible to change, reform or, especially, destroy. That was Sir John Major's achievement though he seems to have forgotten it.
After her resignation Lady Thatcher concentrated on promoting the various ideas of anti-statism that are associated with her name, making a few cautious eurosceptic comments. She was more outspoken on the European issue in private but did not want to undermine her successors in the Conservative party. No doubt she recalled Edward Heath's "Great Sulk" and did not want to emulate it. A great pity, in many ways.
The passing of Margaret Thatcher does remind us of the paucity of political talent around us.
We have covered the ridiculous scare story of their being practically no grown cod in the North Sea here, here and here.
Now, thanks to EUReferendum, we can examine another side of the story. Well, not that particular story as this does not concern the CFP. It seems that in countries outside that noxious system the number and size of cod has been growing to the point that fishermen in Alaska are complaining about the drop in price. Well, yes, that is what happens when there is more produce.
However, the really interesting development is to be found in the Barents Sea. Last October the Barents Observer recorded that
The Barents Sea cod stock is growing and spreading northwards and eastwards. Never before have scientists found cod as far north as during this year’s ecosystem mission.
Norwegian and Russian scientists recently concluded this year’s joint ecosystem mission to the Barents Sea. The conclusion is that the cod stock in the Barents Sea has set a new record when it somes to northern distribution.
The Russian research vessel “Vilnjus” found cod as far north as 82 degrees 30 minutes north.
The cod stock in the Barents Sea is considered to be the largest in the world. The quotas for 2013 will probably be over 900.000 tons.
In March Fishupdate.com was reporting that the predictions were coming true.
Six Icelandic factory trawlers have been fishing in the Norwegian and Russian zones of the Barents Sea. One of them is HB Grandi’s Venus, and according to this trip‘s skipper Haraldur Árnason, there are a huge amounts of fish on the grounds, including on the Malaga shallows and the Fugløy bank in the Norwegian zone where the Icelandic vessels have mostly been fishing.
The skippers are complaining - not a good development. With more cod and bigger cod the price per tonne will fall. They might have to think of joining the EU after all. (Just kidding.) There are other ways of dealing with the problem and Norway is looking at them. One can look to improving quality or to spreading the season. (This article about a report released by the Norwegian research institute Nofima is well worth reading in full.)
As EUReferendum says very pertinently:
That Norway is even able to consider these options rests almost entirely on its refusal in 1994 to join the European Union (for the second time). As it stands, fisheries stocks in the Barents Sea are managed by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission, established in 1975.
Had Norway become an EU member, it would have handed control of its fisheries to the Commission, to be treated as a "common resource". The EU would be negotiating directly with Russia, excluding Norway from the table.
And like Britain, it might have been looking at quotas in the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands of tons it is currently catching, with their fleet a fraction of the size. It is a small wonder that the EU's CFP was one of the main reasons why Norway didn't want to join.
Would it be possible for our politicians, journalists and other would-be experts to understand that.?
The indefatigable Tom Hay, Honorary Chairman of FAL, has written a letter to the Buchan Observer, to be published this week, that replies to Richard Lochhead's latest praise of the so-called CFP reforms. Here is the letter in full.
It is inexcusable that Richard Lochhead should continue to propagate the fallacy that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) can be reformed. FAL has advised him time and again that the real CFP – equal access to a common resource- cannot be reformed. Yet he carries on regardless. See Buchan Observer March 19 2013.
It serves the purpose of course of misleading the few Scottish fishermen who are left, that something can be done through negotiations to bring to a halt the clear intentions of the treaties - of driving British fishermen out of their own fishing grounds in favour of a predatory armada of fishermen from the other member states of the EU, predominately operating in what are British waters under international law.
He is of course referring to the temporary derogation from the real CFP which terminates at the end of a prescribed period.. He must be aware that the Conservative Administration in 1972 under the treacherous Edward Heath, surrendered by treaty British fishing grounds, fishing rights, and fish stocks to an alien, unelected foreign power, and thereby establishing the CFP.
Should he doubt the veracity of this, he will very easily find out the truth by reading the fishing debates in Parliament in the early 1970’s, or paying a visit to the Public Record Office in Kew London, which might even be better, since he will find out just how Parliament deceived the very people by whom it was elected.
During these debates, the House of Commons was prophetically warned, mostly by Labour Members of Parliament, that the disastrous circumstances which now prevail in the British Fishing Industry were inevitable, and could not be averted if we transferred by treaty exclusive competence to “Brussels” for the conservation and management of all living marine resources within British waters.
The Treaties of Accession make it crystal clear that all species of fish within the waters of all EU maritime nations, are a common resource to which all EU member state’s fishermen have an equal right of access.
This is the real, ugly, one and only CFP, which cannot be reformed, and Richard Lochhead is doing himself and his Party a great deal of harm. If he wants to continue as a servant of the Scottish people in another SNP administration, and perhaps even in an independent Scotland after 18 September 2014 then he needs to stop propagating this travesty of the truth now, and find the courage to return to the position he adopted in 2006 when as Shadow Minister for Environment, Rural Affairs, Energy and Fisheries he stated: The Common Fisheries Policy will always undermine our efforts to take the industry forward to better times. Only when Scotland regains control of our own waters will we be able to plot a course for our fishing communities.
Honorary Chairman FAL
It would be nice to think that Richard Lochhead and, more importantly, his officials would read this and ponder over it.
It is always fascinating to see the media stumble on something that many of us have known for some time but, as the saying goes, better late than never. In this case a Reuters journalist went to Whitby and spoke to at least one fisherman there. The fisherman was not happy and neither were his few remaining colleagues.
Negotiating fishing quotas with Brussels has long been a source of friction for Britain.
The European Union sets limits on how much fish EU member states can catch every year, saying it helps conserve stocks and protect the health of the seas.
But in places like Whitby, home of centuries of seafaring, people blame the EU for destroying their livelihoods.
In the debate on whether Britain should leave the club altogether in a possible referendum by 2017, for many living off the sea, the answer is clear.
They would all vote to be out of the EU and they may even get the chance to do so if that referendum ever takes place.