Farage’s stance on fishing is gutless

Nigel Farage was a member of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee. He turned up to just one out of 42 meetings

 

UKIP’s new election poster is a corker. Unveiled in Grimsby yesterday, the poster highlights the plight of fishing businesses that have been “ripped apart due to the EU” and depicts a fishermen who is ‘gutted’. But on the issue of fishing, it’s Farage who is gutless.

It is true that local fishermen around our coast are struggling to survive and are furious after neglect by successive governments. But blaming the EU is a redundant argument because the laws that govern fishing in Europe have been reformed. Farage needs to get the guts to admit that the new Common Fisheries Policy is the best deal for the UK’s local, sustainable fleet in years, and that many fishermen rely on the EU market to make a living.

UKIP didn’t lift a finger to support this huge win for local fishermen. A close inspection of UKIP’s dismal voting record in the European Parliament on fish and Nigel Farage’s appalling attendance on the Fisheries Committee makes a mockery of UKIP’s claim to be standing up for fishermen.

Over three crucial years, during which key decisions were made on the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Nigel Farage was a member of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee. He turned up to just one out of 42 meetings.

Greenpeace research released yesterday showed that during the three major votes to fix the flaws of the CFP between 2012-2014, Nigel Farage didn’t bother to vote . This is despite the fact he was in the building.

A particularly crucial reform made to these new EU fishing laws in 2013 introduces an obligation on all Member States to give more fishing quota to sustainable fishermen who create jobs and contribute the most to local, coastal economies, i.e. the fishermen the UKIP’s poster is aimed at. But Nigel Farage again did not show up to vote for this important measure.

Greenpeace and fishermen from the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association have embarked on a two month, pre-election boat tour that encompasses over 50 English and Welsh marginal coastal constituencies.

MPs and parliamentary candidates at these events are pledging to become coastal champions and put local fishermen first if they win the next election. The turnout has been remarkable with over 100 candidates making the pledge. Farage didn’t come to an event organised by fishermen and Greenpeace in his target constituency of Thanet South recently. All of the parliamentary candidates except for Nigel Farage attended and pledged that if they won the next election, they would work their hardest to get more fishing quota and a better deal for the many angry fishermen who were at the event.

But in several constituencies where UKIP has gained popularity, Labour candidates have also failed to attend or make the pledge – an omission which has been noted by fishermen around the coast. Combined with Labour’s lack of clear policy position on implementation of the CFP, fishermen are viewing Labour candidates with uncertainty.

Despite all this, it’s unsurprising fishermen are listening to UKIP because so far none of the major parties has shown a genuine interest in addressing the thorny issue of redistributing fishing quota to those that most need it. Up and down the coast in Labour and Tory heartlands alike during this tour, we’ve heard fishermen express how they feel politicians of all colours have failed them.

However, fishermen are not fooled by UKIP’s claim that they are standing up for them. They are looking for a clear sign from the parties who have ignored them for decades, that they are now willing to stand up for them and take their demands seriously.

Ariana Densham is an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace

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