Saturday, 17 December 2016

Brexit News

The Guardian reports that the Brexit negotiations are unlikely to result in the fishing 'community' taking back control of UK waters, according to an energy and environmental committee of the House of Lords which says:  

“In withdrawing from the EU, the UK will be able to develop a domestic fisheries policy and control fishing activity within its exclusive economic zone. However, the majority of commercial fish stocks in UK waters are shared with other states, rendering continued cooperation with the EU and other neighbouring states crucial to the sustainability of those stocks.”

The committee said fish stocks were mobile and crossed international boundaries, which underlined the need to maintain existing management agreements. “The government should therefore pursue new, or interim, agreements as a matter of urgency, building on existing models where possible,” it said.

Now I don't have much tome for the House Lords, but that's beside the point, because the danger to fish stocks comes from our own UK fishing industry and not just from 'Johnny Foreigner' as some would have us believe.

'Overfishing' has been a huge problem for years and left to their own devices I suspect there are plenty of unscrupulous skippers (UK and non-UK) who are quite prepared to put their own short-term interests first.

Fishing communities' Brexit hopes may be too high, peers say

Lords committee says expectations about reducing access to British waters for foreign fleets may be unrealistic


The flotilla of fishing trawlers organised by Nigel Farage sailing up the Thames in June. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
By Severin Carrell - The Guardian

The UK’s fishing industry has been warned it will have to accept difficult deals over foreign fleets in British waters if the country is to win favourable terms in next year’s Brexit talks.

A House of Lords committee told fishing communities, who campaigned vigorously for a leave vote during the referendum, that they may have unrealistic hopes about the chances of reducing foreign fleets or cutting their catch sizes once the UK leaves the European Union.

The UK’s trawlermen were among the most vocal critics of the EU during the referendum, fuelled by several decades of resentment against increasingly strict controls on fishing quotas, which are blamed on Brussels and the common fisheries policy (CFP), and claims that their interests are too easily traded away.

Their campaign culminated in the famous “battle of the Thames” confrontation between a flotilla of trawlers skippered by pro-leave fishermen and led by Nigel Farage, the then Ukip leader, and a pro-EU flotilla led by Bob Geldof. Farage said this issue typified the need for the UK to take back control of its resources from the EU.

The Lords energy and environment subcommittee said leaving the EU would allow the UK and devolved administrations to directly control access to the UK’s waters – the largest exclusive economic area in the UK – and its rich fishing grounds.

But the fate of those fish stocks was closely linked to the UK’s wider interests, it said. Flexibility during the Brexit negotiations would be essential to protect British trawlers from retaliatory controls on access by its neighbours and also to preserve the UK’s wider trade and political interests in the talks.

The peers told ministers that open and low-tariff access to the single market was essential for UK fisheries, because the industry was so integrated and dependent on European markets.

The UK would also have to urgently negotiate new bilateral fisheries deals with two of Europe’s most powerful and competitive fishing nations, Norway and Iceland, and with the Faroe Islands. They all have substantial interests in mackerel and herring, the two most valuable catches to the UK.

Black Fish (19/01/14)

I was amazed to read in the Sunday Times that members of a Scottish fishing family retain a big interest in the UK's fishing quotas despite being part of a £63 million 'black fish' scam. 

Now that seems completely ridiculous to me - a bit like putting Count Dracula in charge of the nation's blood transfusion service.

Skippers in £63m fish scam land big quota

By Jon Ungoed-Thomas

MEMBERS of a Scottish fishing family convicted of secretly landing millions of pounds of illegally caught herring and mackerel are some of the biggest holders of fishing quota in Britain, it has been revealed.

The four millionaire skippers were accused of “absolutely staggering” greed in a case in 2012. Police said they were part of a £63m “black fish” scam that was “serious, organised and criminal”.

Andrew, William, Robert and Peter Tait were fined for making undeclared landings of £1.5m each.

Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson, who led the investigation, said after the hearing:

“These four men were an organised crime group who committed crimes for huge financial gain over a prolonged period. They chose to put their own greed ahead of the law.”

It has now emerged that their Klondyke Fishing Company of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, is one of the biggest holders of fishing rights in the country.

One of its three vessels, the Chris Andra, has the third largest holding in Britain.

The details of the holdings have emerged in the first published register of the allocation of Britain’s fishing quota.

The latest company accounts show that Klondyke, which has 13 employees, made a profit before tax of £18m in the year to June 30, 2012, on turnover of £31.8m.

The large turnover was attributed to “an increased quota allocation and market prices for mackerel and herring”. The net worth of the company was £34.6m, with the value of the quota and vessel licences estimated at £8.79m.

The “black fish” scam, in which all three Klondyke trawlers participated, was described by a High Court judge as an “episode of shame” for the Scottish fishing industry. It involved more than 20 skippers from several companies landing fish in excess of quotas.

An investigation, launched in 2005 because of discrepancies between declared landings and actual earnings from fish sales, discovered that underground pipes and concealed weighing scales were used to land illicit fish.

In June 2012, the four members of the Tait family admitted failing to declare landings. They were fined a total of £155,000 for breaches of European regulations.

Greenpeace said this weekend the case highlighted the need for radical reform.

Klondyke said none of the Tait family was available for comment because they were at sea.

Stronger In (20/06/16)

Image result for vote In

AA Gill wrote an article for The Sunday Times last week in which he caricatured the ugly face of the 'I want my country back' Leave Camp in the EU debate.

I have to say I agree with his assessment of such people who have popped up regularly in the TV debates, one buffoon did so last night  on the BBC by comparing the Prime Minister  David Cameron, to his predecessor Neville Chamberlain who is, of course, most famous for his appeasement policy towards the Nazis.

The questioner from the audience described the EU as a 'dictatorship' and mocked the Prime Minister's EU reforms as being no different from 1938 Munich Agreement which Chamberlain waved in celebratory fashion as he stepped off the plane on his retune to the UK.

Now David Cameron answered this chap, directly and politely, as you would expect whereas I felt he deserved a verbal kicking for putting his 'point' in such a poisonous and over the top way.

So I take my hat off to the Prime Minister for keeping his cool and putting this chap and his ugly views firmly in their place.

Brexit: AA Gill argues for ‘In’

We all know what “getting our country back” means. It’s snorting a line of that most pernicious and debilitating Little English drug, nostalgia

By AA Gill - The Sunday Times


It was the woman on Question Time that really did it for me. She was so familiar. There is someone like her in every queue, every coffee shop, outside every school in every parish council in the country. Middle-aged, middle-class, middle-brow, over-made-up, with her National Health face and weatherproof English expression of hurt righteousness, she’s Britannia’s mother-in-law. The camera closed in on her and she shouted: “All I want is my country back. Give me my country back.”

It was a heartfelt cry of real distress and the rest of the audience erupted in sympathetic applause, but I thought: “Back from what? Back from where?”

Wanting the country back is the constant mantra of all the outies. Farage slurs it, Gove insinuates it. Of course I know what they mean. We all know what they mean. They mean back from Johnny Foreigner, back from the brink, back from the future, back-to-back, back to bosky hedges and dry stone walls and country lanes and church bells and warm beer and skittles and football rattles and cheery banter and clogs on cobbles. Back to vicars-and-tarts parties and Carry On fart jokes, back to Elgar and fudge and proper weather and herbaceous borders and cars called Morris. Back to victoria sponge and 22 yards to a wicket and 15 hands to a horse and 3ft to a yard and four fingers in a Kit Kat, back to gooseberries not avocados, back to deference and respect, to make do and mend and smiling bravely and biting your lip and suffering in silence and patronising foreigners with pity.

We all know what “getting our country back” means. It’s snorting a line of the most pernicious and debilitating Little English drug, nostalgia. The warm, crumbly, honey-coloured, collective “yesterday” with its fond belief that everything was better back then, that Britain (England, really) is a worse place now than it was at some foggy point in the past where we achieved peak Blighty. It’s the knowledge that the best of us have been and gone, that nothing we can build will be as lovely as a National Trust Georgian country house, no art will be as good as a Turner, no poem as wonderful as If, no writer a touch on Shakespeare or Dickens, nothing will grow as lovely as a cottage garden, no hero greater than Nelson, no politician better than Churchill, no view more throat-catching than the White Cliffs and that we will never manufacture anything as great as a Rolls-Royce or Flying Scotsman again.