British newspapers tend to bury bad news from Brussels on the international pages of their publications. It is as if what happens in Brussels is really not relevant to our lives in the UK.
I have railed against this for years, to little avail, yet every one of our five million small businessmen and women could tell you how relevant EU diktats are.
Whether it is employment legislation, health and safety, environmental law, or even the speed at which lorries can drive at on our motorways, it is nearly all decided in Brussels.
So is our trade policy, control of our financial services industry, and now, they are even coming after our hobbies and recreations.
I am one of nearly one million sea anglers in this country. Our absolute freedom and right as enshrined in Magna Carta has dictated that from the high tide mark to the low tide mark, this area is common land. We are free if we choose to go and catch fish
Throughout the years I have found this to be a great escape from a busy life. But it is the absolute freedom to do so without the harassment of rules and regulations that I revelled in.
Part of the pleasure is the planning and preparation. The studying of the weather forecast, the times and the tides. And of course the day itself.
For me a huge part of it, call it man-hunter-gatherer if you wish, is taking fish home to cook. My repertoire has grown over the years. I do everything from smoking mackerel to making home made fish and chips. A particular favourite is the bass. A beautiful sleek, silver creature that is always fun to catch and good to eat.
But the European Union have just brought that to an end. Yes, that’s right, the EU has told me that from the 1st January I cannot take a bass home.
Over the last few years the bass, known these days by restaurants for some reason as sea bass, has become a very popular fish. This in turn has led to a huge increase in the commercial pressure on this stock.
Too many fish being caught is clearly badly news for the biomass and it would be a mistake not to acknowledge that we have a problem with the overall number of bass in our seas.
But can this really be the fault of part-time, life long anglers like myself?
The unelected European Commission estimates that 25 per cent of bass caught fall to anglers. When I think over the numbers I’ve caught over the years and I compare that to just one sweep of a French trawler team, the figure is completely laughable.
I would be very surprised in reality if even 10 per cent of the bass caught are the responsibility of anglers. But I suppose that they make for a good soft easy target.
So from January the 1st it will be illegal for any angler to keep a single bass. Under threat of very heavy fines of possibly up to £50,000. From July there will be a one fish limit per angler and this covers both shore and boat-caught-fish by pleasure anglers.
Yet at the same time the under ten metre commercial fleet will be allowed to catch 1.3 tonnes per month albeit with a break period from February and March which is the spawning season.
I do not mind sensible conservation measures, but to be allowed to catch fish by the tonne for sale commercially next to a boat that’s fishing for pleasure which is allowed to land none seems mad.
This will have a huge impact on the angling trade and the commercial charter boat angling fleet. Why would people pay several hundred pounds per day to hire a boat and skipper if they can’t take some fish home for supper?
It is worth understanding that expenditure on recreational sea angling is already worth more to the UK economy than the price of commercially caught fish sold at market.
These measures are utterly disproportionate and wrong. And George Eustice, our minister in charge of Fisheries, should hang his head in shame for not standing up to the Brussels bullies.
There is no way that a UK Parliament would have issued such a measure, and every MP representing a port with angling boats and shops would have protested.
Yet, passed by the European Commission and nodded through the Council of Ministers, there is nothing we can do. Except that is, vote to Leave this EU charade in 2016.
Nigel Farage MEP is the leader of the UK Independence Party