In recent weeks we have seen the Conservative Party blubber about the fishing industry and how it is seeking to protect them. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
They often brandish the EU’s common fisheries policy as the main reason for fisherman hating the EU but the reality is somewhat different than you may think. We heard Ruth at the Conservative Conference saying she had been “talking to fisherman” but the reality is that at £500 a ticket to go to the Tory conference, it was more likely to be the richer fleet owners, not the guys on the ground.
Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and others like to say that the CFP has “destroyed” the British fishing industry or “halved” the number of British fishermen. In fact, in terms of profits of the big fishing companies, the British industry is one of the most successful in the EU. To understand, we must travel back to before 1983. In those days Scottish Fishing Vessels actually didn’t really fish within Scottish Waters. Instead, they used to fish in the white fish grounds around Iceland. However, they lost the right to those waters as a result of the three cod wars during the 60’s and 70’s when Reykjavik exercised its rights under the UN Constitution on Law of the sea and extended its fishing boundaries to 200 miles from their shores.
It wasn’t, in fact, the EU Fishing Policies but in fact the loss of the grounds around Iceland, indeed when the common fisheries policy was first signed, most fishermen deemed it to be relatively fair.