Let us look back to 2003. The then Chairman of FAL, Tom Hay, gave the following presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Fisheries Group:
Presentation To The All Party Parliamentary Fisheries Group
Tuesday 3 June 2003
In "Fishing News" 8th November last year, the Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the EU Parliament, Struan Stevenson, stated categorically that the draconian proposals, which are now a reality, had nothing to do with conservation.
They were he said part of a European "Federalist " agenda to hand over the bulk of European fishing to Spain. The Commission will exploit scientific recommendations, he continued, to close down the British white fish sector as a golden opportunity to help them meet their target capacity cuts in one fell swoop, and thus enable Spain, with the largest fleet to dominate the fishing industry.
Ten years previous to this, on 11th June 1992 the Commission sent across to the Scalloway College in Shetland a lady called Ruth Albuquerque, one of their senior Cabinet Members responsible for Fisheries Policy, who warned the industry that the way forward as envisaged by the Commission for the re-structure of the industry would involve thousands of fishermen losing their jobs.
At that time fish of all species were plentiful on most if not all of the fishing grounds, in the North Sea and West Coast waters around the UK. Sadly however through clever manipulation by MAAF, and the Scottish Office, and in collaboration with certain persons within the industry this ominous threat was quickly downplayed, and finally forgotten altogether.
The Spanish Treaty of Accession makes it absolutely clear that from 1st January 2003, Spanish fishermen as well as Portuguese have the right of "Equal Access" without discrimination to a "Common Resource" in all "European Waters" beyond the 12 mile zone, including the North Sea. This is confirmed by the legal experts of the Council Working Party, and in reference to the exclusion of Spanish and Portuguese fleets for 16 years, Fisheries Minister Miguel Arias Canete said that the European Commission had finally put an end to discrimination against the Spanish fleet in Community waters.
Let us not be deceived again. Political assurances to the contrary are only temporary partial deliverances from the exacting legal demands of the Treaties. The Treaties are brutally clear. All fish within the waters of EU maritime nations are a common resource to which all EU states have an "Equal Right of Access". Everything else is a cruel deception, intended to soften, temporarily, the force of the real disaster for British fishermen, until they are judged to be so weakened that they will be unable to resist the continuing treachery of those disloyal politicians who are eager to sacrifice British fishermen on the altar of their fantasies of a "United Europe".
The savagery of the cuts in Quota over recent years, and now the limited amount of days per month our fishermen are allowed to go to sea, have been camouflaged by Franz Fischler and the British government, in a skilful and cynical manner to justify their fictitious claims of a desperate conservation crisis in cod stocks. They have assumed that this unscrupulous attempt to conceal their disgraceful and ruinous plans to destroy the British fleet, and thus make room for the Spanish, the Portuguese, and new entrants such as Poland and the Baltic States in 2004, would be readily accepted by fishermen, just as some of their leaders, who have fallen for this clever trick for years, have been conned into believing. Franz Fischler and New Labour are wrong! They are fooling no one but themselves.
Those who seek to justify the disgraceful surrender of one of our greatest National assets, have found no expedient too contemptible, and no deceit too mean, in their desperate efforts to conceal the grim reality of what has been done to our fishermen, and to our people, to whom those vast stocks of fish within our legally held Exclusive Fishing Zone rightly belong.
British fishing grounds, British fishing rights, and British fish stocks are the indisputable possession of the British people according to British, and International Law. No politician had the right to surrender their property without their consent. But they did, and the stark reality which now faces our fishermen as a result is, that they have to be driven out of what should be their own fishing grounds, to let the others in.
Looking back through Hansard, I find a proud role of honour of Labour M.P's who warned from the very beginning in the early seventies, of the disastrous consequences, which are now upon us, of accepting the bizarre, ruinous, anti-British doctrine that all fish under the jurisdiction of Member States were to become a "Common Resource" to which all Common Market fishermen had an "Equal Right of Access". A doctrine which is being laughed at outside the European Empire of waste and corruption. Tony Blair would call these honourable, and loyal servants of the British people, unpatriotic xenophobic propagandists. He is again deluding nobody but himself.
FAL has researched this matter exhaustively in conjunction with "Save Britain's Fish", and on the basis of the most authoritative legal testimony. We are thoroughly convinced that the only possible way of rescuing the British Fishing industry from certain disaster, is through the restoration of National control by a United Kingdom Act of Parliament, over these waters legally under our jurisdiction, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.
There is no other way!
That Tom Hay should speak those fighting words should surprise no-one. The problem we face concerns Struan Stevenson who also seemed to be using fighting words in 2002. He is now the Senior Vice President of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee (how many Vice Presidents does one committee need?) and Rapporteur for the Report for the Common Organization of the Market. Does he still hold the views he expressed nine years ago? We await an answer from the long-standing member of the European Parliament with interest.