Impact of the 2014 and 2016 referendums
In the 2014 referendum the affluent North East of Scotland constituencies voted to remain in the UK Union. In the 2016 referendum they voted to leave the EC.
In 2016 the Tory party concentrated their political campaigning in the North East of Scotland, on post Brexit fishing policy, arguing that the SNP was determined to keep Scotland in the EC, and the European Common Fisheries Policy and electoral success for the SNP would adversely affect many constituents who were dependent on fishing for their livelihood.
David Duguid, who would become the successful Tory candidate for Banff and Buchan, met with fishermen’ leaders, and said:
“I have signed and I will honour the Scottish Fishermen Federation’s Brexit pledge. I will be a strong and influential voice for our fishermen, who are rightly determined to make the most of the huge opportunity afforded by the Brexit vote. I do not believe that this industry should ever be considered expendable and I will ensure that the views of our fishermen are heard at the highest levels of government. I will stand up for the interests of our fishing and farming communities.”
Only a few weeks later Andrea Leadsom, the UK Secretary of State in charge of fisheries, in a letter to Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation wrote:
“No decision has yet been made on the extent to which the EU legislation governing the Common Fisheries Policy will be incorporated into domestic law. But a number of parts of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will be retained as part of UK law. The Government will continue to champion sustainable fisheries and we are committed to ongoing cooperation with other countries over the management of shared stocks and ending discards.” ” a “bombshell” delivered.
Ruth Davidson was summoned to an urgent meeting in Peterhead, to answer Tory friendly fishing industry leaders’ call for Scotland’s fisheries not to be used as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations. She failed.
In a statement after the meeting fishermens’ leader, Bertie Armstrong said:
“The whole industry, from those who go to sea through the processors to the hauliers, is united behind one simple aim: our coming out of the EU and the CFP. Brexit offers us a huge opportunity to re-assert control of our waters and to establish once and for all a sensible, practicable new fisheries management regime.”
Clear enough. but the Westminster government ignored him.
“The Government’s Brexit White Paper merely said:
“Given the heavy reliance on UK waters of the EU fishing industry and the importance of EU waters to the UK, it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities.”
A Churchillian gesture to Scottish fishermen.
Eilidh Whiteford, (SNP) commented:
“The letter is a bombshell which utterly demolishes the Tories’ bogus claims about fishing. The cat is now out of the bag. While Ruth Davidson is heading to the North East to pretend the Tories are the fishermens’ friends, her Westminster bosses are plotting a gigantic sell-out. The letter couldn’t be clearer. For all their rhetoric, the Tories are planning to incorporate key parts of the CFP ‘into domestic law. And they are also committed to ongoing cooperation with other countries over the management of shared stocks. That means that they are planning to use Scottish waters and our fishing industry as a Brexit bargaining chip. In doing so, they are also taking an enormous gamble with the livelihoods of those fish processors that depend on European exports by jeopardizing our position within the single market.”
Only recently released, under the 30-year rule,(with other heavily redacted documents) was the Tory controlled Scottish Office statement, (made at the time the Common Fisheries Policy was being negotiated in the 1970’s), that:
“in the wider UK context the fishermen of Scotland must be regarded as expendable.”
So no change in policy between 1970 – 2017!!!!
Asked to comment David Duguid, Tory MP for Banff and Buchan, said:
“The Conservative Government at Westminster is following through on the democratic will of the British people to leave the EU.”
So much for his pledge to honour the pledge. Yet, the North East of Scotland electorate ignored all warnings of duplicity and elected Tory candidates to office at the General Election.
The family’s Klondyke Fishing Company is the UK’s third-largest quota holder.
19 Jul 2017: North Sea cod certified fully sustainable
North Sea cod has today been officially certified as fully sustainable and can be eaten freely. The green light was given by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which has given the fishery its all important blue tick label. The decision will provide a major boost for the UK fishing industry and the Scottish fleet in particular.
The situation is a complete contrast from the situation a little over a decade ago when North Sea cod stocks were at a critically low level. The MSC said today the blue tick indicated that North Sea cod caught by Scottish and English boats is “sustainable and fully traceable”.
Cod stocks in the North Sea stood at around 280,000 tons just 40 years ago and then went into steep decline due to over-fishing when stock fell to under 40,000 tons. The EC Common Fisheries Policy instructed a ban on cod catches, until such time as stocks would be recovered. Forming part of the strategy to resolve the problem of over fishing the Grimsby fleet of more than 100
North Sea trawlers was reduced to a handful of local boats. The stock recovery plan was in place for around ten years and the policy brought long term dividends for Scottish fisheries.
The MSC said the announcement that cod was now sustainable was a “momentous achievement” for the industry. But the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), conservation body WWF has warned that historically, the population of North Sea cod was still at a low level and efficient control measures will need to kept in place.
Comment: Without the Common Fisheries Policy the North Sea would most likely be barren of cod so far as trawler fishing is concerned. The over fishing policies of the Grimsby trawler fleet operators was decided by the needs of the Grimsby fish processing industry which had in place many contracts with the EC and worldwide for the supply of processed fish.
Conversely, the Scottish North Sea trawler fleet was primarily deployed to catch fish for the “fresh fish markets” of the UK, EC and worldwide and did not impact on cod stocks to the same extreme as the Grimsby fleet.
26 Jul 2017: Brexit – Grimsby area MPs appointed to key fisheries posts
Grimsby MP, Melanie Onn has been elected to chair the House of Commons, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fisheries. Her duties will ensure she discharges a leading role shaping the future of Britain’s post-Brexit fishing industry. The influential cross-party group of MPs will meet regularly to take evidence from key players in the seafood industry and experts, and will be empowered to question Government Ministers on their policies towards fisheries. It will also be able to hold the government to account in the all important Brexit implications for the fishing industry.
“my appointment will give me more influence and a better chance to fight for Grimsby’s seafood industry. I’m delighted to be elected to this position. Thousands of people in Grimsby work in the seafood sector, and I will now have a bigger platform from which to pressure the Government into providing greater support for the industry. I said during the election campaign that I would fight for the best Brexit deal for Great Grimsby, which means holding the Government to the promises made to the fishing industry during the referendum, and protecting the seafood sector’s ability to trade with Europe. My new role will give me more opportunities to question the Ministers responsible for these areas, and to make sure they know how their actions will affect the livelihoods of workers in Grimsby.”
Other members of the committee are: Alistair Carmichael, Lib/Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland, Sheryll Murray, Tory MP for South East Cornwall, Peter Aldous, Tory MP for Waveney and David Duguid, Tory MP for Banff and Buchan
Meanwhile, Martin Vickers, the Tory MP for the neighbouring constituency of Cleethorpes has been appointed vice chairman of the Commons Iceland group. He said:
“Three quarters of all the fish processed in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area comes from Iceland and Icelandic investment supports hundreds of local jobs, so the country is very important to us.”
1. As an all-party committee the composition of 4 Conservative and 1 Lib Dem MP is disgraceful abuse of the electorate of Scotland. It is clear the Tory party intends protecting Grimsby, the main fish processing centre in the UK at the expense of all other outlets.
2. Pinney’s (fish processors) of Annan closed in 2017, with the devastating loss to the small community of 450 jobs, following the transfer of all fish processing on the site to from Scotland to centres of excellence in England (Grimsby & Calisle).
6 Dec 2017: Scottish affairs discussion at Westminster
“Fishing is a totemic industry in my constituency of Banff and Buchan, where there is real concern that the Scottish Government wish to take Scotland back into the common fisheries policy. Can my hon. friend, Mr Mundell reassure me that in all conversations and negotiations, he stands firm on taking Scotland’s fisherman out of the CFP, and keeping them out?”
“My hon. friend, has already come to be seen as a champion for the fishing industry. I can give him an absolute guarantee: unlike the Scottish National Party, which would take us straight back into the common fisheries policy, this Government will take Scotland and the rest of the UK out of that discredited policy.”
Comment: A loaded question designed for effect rather than purpose. Duguid and Mundell are perpetuating the “boggie man” myth of the SNP in a blatant attempt to hide the truth from the electorate. The Tory government, as previously advised by Andrea Leadsom, the UK Secretary of State in charge of fisheries, will be unable to completely remove the UK from its commitment to the EC fisheries policy.
The EC Common fisheries Policy allocates two-thirds of the entire UK fishing quota to Scotland
In Scotland, five families on the “Sunday Times Rich List” own or control a third (33%) of the entire Scottish quota and when taking into account minority stakes, companies wholly or partly owned by these families hold close to half (45%) of all Scottish quota.
Rich List Families:
Alexander Buchan and family are ranked 804 in the 2018 Rich List, with an estimated net worth of £147m. The family’s Peterhead-based Lunar Fishing Company owns or controls 8.9% of the UK’s quota holdings, making it the biggest quota holder in the UK.
Jan Colam and family are ranked 882 on the Rich List (estimated worth: £130m). The Colam family-owned company Interfish is the second largest quota holder, with 7.8% of the UK total.
Robert Tait and family are ranked 980 on the Rich List (estimated worth: £115m). The family’s Klondyke Fishing Company is the UK’s third-largest quota holder, with 6.1% of the UK total.
Unearthed’s investigation reveals that the Tait family’s “Klondyke Fishing Company” is now the third-largest quota holder in the UK and has paid out dividends totalling £56m over the past five years. The owner,Peter Tait, 50, reportedly purchased Scotland’s most expensive house in 2014.
In 2012, four members of the Tait family, received fines and confiscation orders totalling more than £800,000 for their role in landing undeclared fish as part of the “black fish” scandal, (a large-scale fishing fraud reportedly worth £63m.)
Andrew Marr and family are ranked 567 on the Rich List (estimated worth: £209m).
The family’s Hull-based Andrew Marr International owns or controls 5.1% of UK quota holdings making it the UK’s 5th largest quota holder. It also has minority stakes in companies and vessel partnerships that hold a further 5.4% of UK quota.
Brexit Flotilla: the “Christina-S” trawler was a flagship in the “Brexit Flotilla” of boats which sailed up the Thames with Nigel Farage in 2016, calling for Britain to leave the EU to improve access to fish.
Ernest Simpson (71) and his son Allan Simpson (49), who are partners in the partnership that operates the vessel, were ordered to pay more than £850,000 in fines and confiscation orders for their role in the black fish scam. (The Christina-S) vessel partnership, in which English “Rich List” fishing baron Andrew Marr also has a stake, is the sixth-largest quota holder in Scotland.
Sir Ian Wood and family are ranked 77 on the Rich List, with an estimated worth of £1.7bn (a fortune built largely on oil and gas services). Sir Ian’s fishing business, JW Holdings, holds 1% of the UK’s fishing quota and has minority investments in businesses/partnerships that hold a further 2.3%.
Many thousands of Scottish fishermen have been forced out of business and entire fishing communities have collapsed directly due to the hi-jacking of fishing quotas by the “big 5” which would be distributed more efficiently and fairly among single boat and small fleet fishermen whose impact on the environment is much reduced over the “big 5”. Fishing villages, lost over time could be rebuilt throughout Scotland and freshly caught fish would become widely available to customers, at a decent price.
Post Brexit fishing: the facts:
Many of the important to the UK fishing stocks are shared and straddle maritime boundaries and the UK and its future fisheries neighbours (the remaining EU27, Norway and the Faroe Islands) will be obliged to prepare new fisheries agreements which set a Total Allowable Catch (TACs) for each species and allocate it between the parties.
In determining the allocation of quotas to each party the EU will seek to maintain the Common Fisheries Policy’s relative stability keys, whilst the UK will seek leverage from a claimed greater zonal attachment of stocks to its waters.
Whilst there is no comprehensive data on spatial distribution of fish stocks in current EU waters, it has estimated this for a Brexit scenario on the basis of 2014 catches reported for each sea area defined by ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas.
The estimate is that the potential UK catch arising from the threatened post-Brexit exclusion of EU vessels from UK waters could increase by as much as 671,000 tonnes (representing a gain of 90 per cent of current catches).
However, since much of this would be lower value species such as blue whiting, the benefit would fall to 387,000 tonnes in cod equivalents.
The ICES areas in which the UK would gain the most would be the sectors West of Scotland and the northern parts of the North Sea.
UK operators would however lose important access to fishing grounds to the West of Ireland.
It is expected the UK will hope to retain access to important fish stocks in Norwegian waters of the North Sea, which it currently enjoys via the bilateral EU- Norway Fisheries Agreement.
But that access, which involves almost half of the EU quota of cod, is linked to the European Economic Area ( EEA) Treaty, and the British Government has all but ruled out retaining membership of this body.
The fear is the current UK quota of these Norwegian stocks might then be lost in a post-Brexit scenario (for example the quotas could be retained by the EU and divided among the remaining 27 states, or revert it back to Norway).
Even if access is not lost, the UK will have to come up with the quotas to exchange. All of these factors reduce the likely benefit to the UK from the attachment of European fish stocks to the UK zone.
Furthermore, the UK exports approximately 80 per cent of its wild caught seafood, with 66 per cent going to 27 EU states, so UK fishers have a strong interest in maintaining tariff-free access to that market.
However, the EU will most likely seek quota and access to fish in the UK zone in return as it did with Norway and Greenland so the waters ahead for the UK fleet may not be the plain sailing it had anticipated.
Fishing policy, post Brexit will be decided by the Westminster government. Nothing of substance is in the public domain as yet, although the ever productive Michael Gove compiled and issued a briefing document so full of excessive gobbledygook as to render it very difficult to full understand.
But the gist of it indicates that:
1. Bulk processing of fish stocks is to be centralized in Grimsby, which will be the single British processed fishery producer and distributor to the EC and Worldwide.
2. Deep sea fishing fleets will be encouraged by contract, to offload fishing catches at Grimsby achieving significant reduction in the industries carbon footprint (transportation).
3. Allocation of fishing quota’s by country is to cease. The fishing industry is to be classified as a “National” resource.
4. Inshore fishing is to be downscaled concentrating catches providing support to local communities.
5. Demographic changes are to be anticipated as work and boat harbouring transfers to England
I have to conclude with congratulations to the North East of Scotland fishermen who, in voting in compliance with their rich bosses orders have succeeded only in cutting the throats of themselves and their families.