Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Faroese fight back

The Faroe Islands who want the coastal countries that include Russia, Iceland and Norway (but not the UK because we do not negotiate on our behalf) to meet in September and discuss the management of the herring stock, have meanwhile taken the EU to an international tribunal under UNCLOS over those threats of sanctions.

The BBC reports that

A statement from the Faroese prime minister's office said the government had requested an international tribunal to declare the European Union "in breach of its obligations" under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It asked for EU authorities to be "ordered to refrain from the threat or adoption of coercive economic measures on the Faroe Islands".

Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has also demanded the EU withdraws the threats and allows a peaceful settlement to be found under "free negotiations".

European sanctions will be brought in against Faroese herring and mackerel imports from the end of August.

The Scottish fishermen are supporting this high-handed action. As we have said before, Britain should be looking to ways of negotiating with both Iceland and the Faroes. But we shall not even be there at the September meeting which is still scheduled to take place.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The non-negotiable CFP

We are very pleased to publish a letter from the indefatigable Honorary Chairman of FAL, Tom Hay, in which he once again attempts to explain that the common fisheries policy (CFP) is non-negotiable. The letter, we hope, will appear in the next issue of Fishing News.

It appears that Richard Benyon is determined to continue misleading British fishermen about CFP reform. His plausible statements in Fishing News 9th August 2013 on this very serious matter are extremely erroneous, in fact, spurious since they are deceiving our hard working fishermen into believing that a better future lies in store (how often have we heard that?) for them, if they submit to his optimistic overtures, that history would show that returning the seas to sustainable harvesting “as the really big win” of CFP reform. Fishermen will have certainty over the future of the stocks they fish, and depend on, he continues, but cunningly however, he doesn’t say British fishermen because, he really means EU fishermen.

This is why FAL is equally determined not to allow him to get away with this. What he is talking about reforming, and craftily calls it the CFP, is a temporary derogation from the general rule of equal conditions of access to fishery resources and non discrimination laid down in Article 40 clause 3 of the Treaty.

Never to my knowledge or belief has Richard Benyon or Richard Lochhead for that matter, ever stated publicly the appalling fact that the CFP is free access to waters on a non- discriminatory basis for all member states fleets, and that it is not negotiable.

Whatever these servants of the British people may tell our fishermen, they have no security whatsoever, and absolutely nothing can be done for their peace of mind, as long as we remain within this horrendous, anti-British Common Fisheries Policy.

Take a look at the East Coast of Scotland as an example of the enormous damage which has already been done. Every Port from the Borders to John o’ Groats, which used to be a bustling hive of activity, now lies indisputably desolate.

There is only one clear unobstructed way of escape. The fisheries agreement signed, by Treaty in 1972 must be revoked, and the shackles of this terrible Common Fisheries Policy thrown off, so that we can regain control of our potentially rich fishing grounds, which are rightly ours according to international law, yet so shamefully surrendered by the Edward Heath Government through unbelievable deceit.

Succeeding generations of the British people will hold us accountable for evermore if we allow a disaster of such tremendous enormity to befall our nation.

Thomas Hay

Honorary Chairman FAL

Friday, 9 August 2013

Iceland's case

On the whole, we do not consider it necessary to quote politicians at length. It is enough to note what they say and move on. However, in this case, we do recommend our readers to read the article by Sigisrdur Ingi Johansson, Iceland's Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, in the Wall Street Journal. As we have pointed out before (too often to link to) the EU's behaviour has not been rational or politically sensible; it has been the behaviour of a greedy, peevish school bully but, at least, there is some sign that sense might, if not prevail, at least get a look in. Talks are planned for early September.

Iceland's recently elected government has a renewed sense of purpose to resolve the international dispute over mackerel catch levels in the northeast Atlantic. Yet rather than pushing toward a fair outcome, aggressive talk of trade sanctions from Brussels is harming the effort to seal a lasting shared-quota agreement.

Iceland is dealing with an unexpected explosion in the number of mackerel in our waters. Cooperation and diplomacy, not illegal sanctions, are needed to manage the stock together. Our position is clear and unchanged: We want to sit down and reach a fair, lasting solution for all of Europe's coastal states. The EU's decision last week to move forward with sanctions against the Faroe Islands sets an unfortunate precedent.

Since 2010, Iceland has repeatedly offered concrete proposals that would have solved the dispute, including five public requests this year to reconvene the relevant coastal states—Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and the European Union, which represent Scotland and Ireland, among others, in this dispute—for urgent talks. These efforts were rejected.

Given the lack of action from other countries, Iceland's new government, which took office after April's election, decided to take bold action to restart negotiations. We reached out to our counterparts with the offer to host multilateral talks as soon as possible. We are pleased that the EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands have confirmed they will attend these new talks, which are scheduled for early September. Norway's participation is especially encouraging: The Norwegian government previously stated that it was not in a position to negotiate until after September's elections.

Sadly, the UK will not be there negotiating though the issue is of some importance to this country and its fishermen as well as consumers. But then, we have handed over our rights to the EU and submerged our interests into the Common Fisheries Policy. How well that has served us!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Another fishing dispute

Gibraltar is in the news again. Spain, a country that is beset with problems at the moment, is sabre rattling over Gibraltar.

On Sunday, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo warned that "the midday break" for the U.K. was over, a reference to what he called ineffective policies in defense of Spanish interests by the country's previous government, which left office in December 2011.

Mr. García-Margallo made the remarks in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, adding that Spain was considering restricting flights into the Gibraltar airport and imposing a special fee of €50 ($66) for any border crossing.

These comments come at a delicate moment for Spain's government, facing recession and corruption allegations that have led to a collapse in the popularity of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy . Mr. Rajoy last week dismissed the allegations as "a surprising and imaginative collection of lies." Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's chief minister, said Monday that Spain's political situation is a likely reason why Madrid is now raising the tone of the dispute.

The immediate cause of the latest crisis was an alleged infringement on the rights of Spanish fishermen.

The latest tensions between Spain and the British territory began 10 days ago after Gibraltar boats began dumping blocks of concrete into the sea near the territory. Gibraltar said it was creating an artificial reef that would foster fish populations.

Spain said the reef would block its fishing boats and ramped up border checks, creating long lines at the border between Spain and the territory.

Picardo called for proportionate customs and immigration controls at the frontier, saying they had been excessive in recent days.

Excuse us, but was this not the sort of outdated national dispute that the European Union was going to make history?