Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot

SNP MEP Ian Hudghton writes about the damage David Cameron’s abdication of responsibility in the European Union is having on Scottish fisheries.

 

Ian Hudghton MEP is the president of the Scottish National Party and SNP group leader in the European Parliament; he has served on the European Parliament’s fisheries committee since 1998

The tinsel is up in the shop windows of Brussels and the fairy lights are flashing. It means it’s that time of year again: the annual CFP circus comes to town where fisheries ministers from around the EU set the following year’s fishing opportunities.

The term “fisheries ministers” is of course used in its broadest possible sense – countries like Austria, Slovakia and Luxembourg don’t have any coastlines and so have minimal fishing interests.

But their ministers will still be in attendance, horse-trading the night away and winning concessions for their countries in other policy areas, such as agriculture.

Unlike in a real circus however, this clowning around isn’t remotely funny. The decisions taken each year have a direct impact on the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers around Europe – and all too often for Scotland that impact is wholly negative.

Scotland accounts for three-quarters of the UK’s fish landings – and fisheries is therefore quite simply a low priority for the junior agriculture minister from England who will represent the UK at the talks.

When the UK was negotiating entry to the common market 40 years ago Ted Heath’s government famously stated that the fishing industry was “expendable” – and nothing has happened since to suggest that that attitude has changed.

This year however a whole new and sinister element has been thrown into the equation. A week ago David Cameron was seemingly walking a tight rope – trying to balance the views of his xenophobic Eurosceptic backbenchers on the one hand with the greater interests of all of Europe on the other.

But the boy was unfortunately a beginner – and mid-way through the performance he inexplicably dived head first off the rope, to the delighted cheers of the audience on the right. Unfortunately for him, there was no safety net – and potentially catastrophically for Scotland’s fishermen, we’re all being dragged down with him.

It is hard to overstate how serious this is for Scotland’s fishermen. The fisheries ministers from the Scottish and UK governments held urgent talks on Monday 5th December after the Commission took a decision in late November to slash the Scottish fleet’s days at sea.

Negotiations were ongoing – and it was always going to be a tough fight to reverse the Commission’s decision. Cameron’s nose-dive means things have just got much tougher – and this was perhaps evidenced by fisheries commissioner Damanaki’s comments to the European Parliament’s fisheries committee this week.

In a discussion on future funds for fishing, commissioner Damanaki claimed that some Member States have been failing to comply with fishing regulations and – unusually – singled out the UK for special mention. Could this be a glimpse of the future in the EU: a mere mention of the words “United Kingdom” guaranteed to get everyone’s backs up – and to allow the Commission to get its own way?

Welsh first minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has said he is:

“…very worried that Wales could be disadvantaged by the prime minister’s anti-European rhetoric.”

 He continued:

“I don’t want investors to be put off bringing jobs to Wales because of concerns that their access to the EU market could be at risk.”

His Scottish counterpart, Alex Salmond, has written to the prime minister asking what risk assessment he had made ahead of exercising the veto and why he had not consulted the devolved administrations. In his letter Mr Salmond explicitly referred to the vital fisheries negotiations.

I suspect the answer is fairly self-evident and no risk assessment was made – no regard was had for Scotland’s coastal communities.

And so when Europe’s fisheries ministers gather at the end of this week they do so in an utterly changed Europe.  The UK government’s general low prioritisation of fisheries is now compounded by their new low standing within the EU.  Scotland’s fishermen have suffered under the CFP for some decades now; it is their further great misfortune that fishing is the subject of the first major negotiations after Cameron’s veto.

Ted Heath said that fishing was expendable; David Cameron seems to regard our whole relationship with our European neighbours as similarly expendable.

It’s time Scotland got off this sinking British ship – and joined the flotilla in the European mainstream.

See also:

How Cameron traded influence for isolationBen Fox, December 12th 2011

Is a ‘green populism’ possible, and can Labour help foster it?Guy Shrubsole, September 26th 2011

Bold consensus needed for a better future for Europe’s fisheriesWilliam Bain MP, July 16th 2011

Urgency of Now: Reforming fisheries policy, protecting biodiversityWilliam Bain MP, June 10th 2011

Truth behind TaxPayers’ Alliance’s EU attack adShamik Das, November 20th 2009

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23 Responses to “Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot”

  1. CAROLE JONES

    Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/8a3x4Hb8 via @addthis

  2. Political Planet

    Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot: SNP MEP Ian Hudghton writes about the damage David Cam… http://t.co/Og0qyzzk

  3. Sue Hoyle

    And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/hXJwR6rX

  4. Chris Horner

    And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/hXJwR6rX

  5. Kevin Leonard

    Fisheries ministers from around the EU set the following year’s fishing opportunities……
    How much better would it be if the only people sitting at the table were members of the United Kingdom talking about their exclusive rights to fish their own Territorial waters rather than having to compromise(badly) with every tom dick and helmut over who gets what when and how much they are allowed to make.
    The whole EU construction is designed to favour the lowest common denominator this is fine on paper but as was proven with the USSR eventually it all falls foul of the greed of political parasites grabbing more each year for themselves.
    The corruption in Brussels is such that yet again the accounts have not been signed off due to “Anomalies” ( fraud on a grand scale by meritocrats) and yet still there are those insisting that paying £50million a day subscription fees is a jolly good idea.

  6. Sally Drayton

    And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/hXJwR6rX

  7. guest

    “Scotland’s fishermen have suffered under the CFP for some decades now”.

    Is the problem Cameron, or is it the EU?

  8. HouseOfTwitsLab

    RT @leftfootfwd And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/uVvr3Oya

  9. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/cEdbiTGn

  10. Kevin Peel

    RT @leftfootfwd And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/uVvr3Oya

  11. Maureen Czarnecki

    RT @leftfootfwd And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/cEdbiTGn

  12. Dave Poole

    “It’s time Scotland got off this sinking British ship – and joined the flotilla in the European mainstream.” –

    Is this Left Foot Forward belief and policy now or just a bandwagon you saw passing and thought you’d grab a lift on??

  13. Nell Epona Bridges

    Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot, writes @hudghtonmepSNP: http://t.co/REcALv23

  14. DaveyW

    And so it begins: How Cameron's self-indulgence is already hurting us in EU negotiations: http://t.co/hXJwR6rX

  15. Hotspur

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot http://t.co/Oz1N1nX0

  16. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron’s walkout is leaving Scotland’s fisheries to rot http://t.co/UgmcuP68

  17. The SNP

    What could Cameron's walk out do to Scotland's fisheries. Read SNP President and MEP Ian Hudghton @leftfootforward http://t.co/F4ci5xAZ

  18. Anonymous

    Given that fish are quite poor at recognising territorial boundaries, will your plan include some sort of underwater barrier and customs system to stop the unrestrained actions of one country hugely impacting on others?

  19. Finona

    Just another result of Cameron's actions. http://t.co/ya7xaVhg

  20. Sue

    Nobody is to blame but the EU. Don’t keep passing the buck, we Britons should be united. It’s in all our best interests to get out of the EU. Even lefties can’t advocate dictatorships, unless of course you are being bribed by the “colleagues”…

  21. David FB Gowans

    What could Cameron's walk out do to Scotland's fisheries. Read SNP President and MEP Ian Hudghton @leftfootforward http://t.co/F4ci5xAZ

  22. Fishermen UK

    The Latest: Cameron's walkout is leaving Scotland's fisheries to rot: It is hard to overstate how serious this i… http://t.co/YHammBkR

  23. Riversm00nraker

    You get what you vote for. Uk – no influence in Europe, Scotland – no influence in UK. I’d leave the UK if I were you Scotland. Then the Spanish & French can take what’s left of your fishery resource.

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