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Tom Hay
The following speech was delivered by Tom Hay, Chairman of the Fisherman's Assocation Ltd. to a Save Britain's Fish fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference on 3rd October 2001. It was published in the November 2001 issue of Sovereignty.

British fishing policy is determined by the political imperative of European integration.

The objective is to create an EU fishing fleet catching EU fish in EU waters under an EU permit system controlled from Brussels.

That is the price the British fishing industry has to pay as its contribution towards the realisation of European political union, and nothing - not even the conservation of fish stocks - must be allowed to stand in the way of achieving that objective.

Today we are confronted with the consequent catastrophe now facing our fishermen, as they are forced off what should be their own waters in favour of an increasingly predatory armada of Spanish and other foreign vessels.

The British fishing industry is therefore being intentionally and systematically destroyed by the command of Brussels. To conceal the real issue and say that this is for conservation is a contemptible lie. But lies are the rule rather than the exception when dealing with Brussels on this issue, and with successive British governments for that matter.

In the House of Commons on 17th December 1997 Christopher Gill, Conservative Member of Parliament for Ludlow, said: "For 25 years, the House of Commons and the people of Britain, not least the fishermen, have been fed a diet of half-truths, deceptions and downright lies". He was absolutely right.

British fishermen have since 1983 been ordered by this unelected bureaucracy to dump hundreds of thousands of tons of prime quality fish all dead back into the sea in the name of conservation, to pollute the fishing grounds in almost every area where our vessels operate.

That is a transgression against the highest moral law, since thousands, yes, millions die of starvation only a few hours flight from Britain's shores.

The supporters of this pernicious plot in desperation to conceal their intentions, parrot the sickening nonsense that there are too many fishermen chasing too few fish. This is another lie, and nothing more than a cynical front to justify drastic reductions in the British fleet to create room for the free access of other Member States fishermen to the only commodity in the European Union regarded as a common resource.

Furthermore what they don't tell us is the fact that 50% of the British share of European Union quota allocated in 1983 is now in the hands of Dutch and Spanish flag ships. So how can there be too many British fishing vessels chasing too few fish within the British sector of Community waters which contains three-quarters of the fish within "EU waters".

In the month of March this year the European Commission enforced what they called "The cod recovery plan". This plan involved the closure of 40,000 square miles of prime fishing grounds in the North Sea for twelve weeks. The alleged purpose of this closure was to allow the cod to spawn uninterruptedly. But at the same time they quietly introduced legislation which allowed Danish fishermen to fish within the closed area providing they used a mesh size of less than 16mm.

Surely no sensible Fisheries Management System, genuinely concerned for the sustainability of fish stocks, would legislate for the wholesale slaughter of the major food supply upon which those stocks depend. But this is what has been happening for years, and continues to happen in the industrial fishery for sand-eels. The Total Allocated Catch has been set year after year at over 1 million tonnes despite the fact that fishermen, due to the scarcity of sand eels, have only been able to catch half that amount.

So is there an ulterior motive? It certainly looks like it.

The Commission is well aware of the fact that if there is not an adequate food supply within the British sector, the fish will consume their own young and then move into other waters where they can find sustenance in abundance.

Can it really be by accident that so many things, some that I haven't mentioned, which are bound to destroy fish stocks are happening by the command of "Brussels" at the same time?

Is it not more likely that they are part of a deliberate policy of inducing our fishermen to be the unwitting agents of their own extermination? So that when fish stocks again recover in the North Sea, as they surely will, there will be very few inconvenient British fishermen left to mar the creation of a single EU fleet on the principle of non-discrimination, with no increase in fishing effort, as Brussels so obviously intends.

At the Scottish Labour Party Conference on Friday 6th March 1998, the following question was put to the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook: "Is it in your view possible to renegotiate the CFP to give Scotland's fishing fleet priority in our own waters, so the fishermen can make a living, which many now are not doing, or is it too late to stop the North Sea turning into a Euro-lake?"

Mr Cook replied: "In the short run it will not be possible to renegotiate the European Common Fisheries Policy, and when it comes, the priority will be to conserve dwindling fish stocks".

He continued: "The immense tragedy is that the Tories took Britain into Europe in 1972 without getting British fishermen as good a deal as Mrs Thatcher later gave to the Spanish fleet. The Tories then missed their last chance to renegotiate the policy before the millennium. British fishing grounds are due to become a 'common resource' for fleets from all over Europe under the existing policy."

Without going into the rights and wrongs of these statements, what he didn't say was that on 1 January 1977 the Fishery Limits Act came into force, while the Labour government was in power. The Act extended British fishery limits from the baselines of the territorial sea out to 200 miles or to the median line. And the Labour government immediately surrendered the jurisdiction of these waters - which were subsequently formalised into International Law by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the property of the British people - into the hands of this undemocratic bureaucracy in Brussels.

Since no Parliament can bind its successor, both political Parties are equally to blame for this terrible shambles and sorry mess our industry finds itself in at the present time. But there is no need for us to remain under such groveling humiliating servitude, since under the democratic principles of our historic Constitution we can end the shameful surrender of our fishing grounds, our fishing rights and fish stocks, at any time of our choosing.

Thirty years of senseless destruction is enough.

Britain's fish stocks are our responsibility. It is our duty to protect them and the communities dependent upon them.

Tom Hay can be contacted at   11 Burns Road
Aberdeen AB15 4NT
  telephone :
fax :
01224 313473
01224 310385

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