In early December shipping minister Mike Penning repealed the last government’s ban on transhipment by Russian oil tankers in Sole Bay, Southwold, Suffolk. In doing so he provided yet another example of the flawed thinking by our misplaced ministers in relation to the threatened closures within our Maritime Coastguard Agency.
Responding to environmental concerns, part of Mr Penning’s justification, despite his statement in the House of Commons previously that the tankers in question were “not of the best quality”, was that the Maritime Coastguard Agency at Great Yarmouth would oversee the operation. Lo and behold, on 16th December, shortly after the repeal, he announced that Great Yarmouth station is earmarked for closure! Does the right hand of the member for landlocked Hemel Hempstead know what the left hand is doing?
Another example of misplaced ministers was shown on <i>Hugh’s Fish Fight</i> on Channel 4 last week when we had fisheries minister Richard Benyon, MP for landlocked Newbury, unable to tell the difference between a halibut and a haddock.
Will there ever come a time in fisheries and maritime affairs when we will have UK ministers who know anything about their portfolios? I suspect not, given how successive UK governments have devalued our fishing industry and maritime affairs since we joined the EU. As an island nation Britain is surrounded by a rich sustainable resource in terms of its fishing industry. 2012 sees a revision of the Common Fisheries Policy. If our politicians do not get it right that industry will continue on a wasteful downward spiral. With ministers who know so little about their responsibilities it particularly behoves the MSPs and MPs who represent the fishing and maritime constituencies to emphasise the importance of this issue, in the same way our members are currently supporting opposition to the MCA closures.