UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has announced on LBC this morning that he intends to lead a flotilla of fishing boats up the Thames to the Palace of Westminster in the next few weeks.
The stunt, which Mr. Farage described as a visual protest, is set to draw attention to the fact that Britain no longer has control over her Exclusive Fishing Zone (EFZ), the 200 mile/Median Line Zone off the coast of the country.
Britain’s fisheries have been devastated as a member of the EU due to fishing quotas and the fact that the EU imposing a ‘common resource’ policy over Britain’s territorial waters.
As a result, many fishermen have lost business, while many struggle to make ends meet at all. To draw attention to this, Mr. Farage said he and 60 boats would sail from Southend-on-Sea at 5am on June 15th and will arrive at the Palace of Westminster for a visual stunt. He also invited leading ‘Leave’ campaigners Michael Gove and Boris Johnson to join him, “if they have the stomach”.
Eurostat data estimates that European fisheries throw away 1.7 million tonnes of fish every year, or 23 per cent of all catches in EU fisheries.
Under the Common Fisheries Policy, the fishing industry in Britain has dramatically declined. Recent statistics indicate that the number of vessels decreased from 10,295 in 1994 to 6,406 in 2012, with a reduction in fishermen from 20,751 to 12,450 in the same period. With fewer fishermen and vessels, the amount of fish landed in UK ports has dropped dramatically. In 1970, 948,000 tonnes of fish were landed from British vessels; by 2008 that had dropped to 417,000 tonnes.
A recent study by the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group warned: “With a declining catch and at the same time rising demand for fish, the UK has since 1984 become a net importer of fish – to the tune, currently, of £2.66 billion worth of seafood annually – two thirds of what we eat. This is an astonishing result for a country surrounded by rich waters and with a long seafaring tradition. The UK should be more than self-sufficient and a big player on the export market. We are in this situation not because of our own fishermen but because politicians have bartered away our inheritance for a mess of pottage.”
It concludes: “Outside the EU, the UK can run its own fisheries with a sensible conservation strategy which will avoid the Tragedy of the Commons in our waters at least and thus ensure that there is enough fish for future generations.”