Only a week ago Conservative MEP Ian Duncan was telling us how, with support from colleagues, he had intervened to delay implementation of the impending cod discard ban – a U-turn by the EU’s fisheries committee – and an impressive achievement.
However, it seems the spirit of Laurel and Hardy lives on in Brussels, for yesterday the Fishing News reported that the fisheries committee had executed a second U-turn, quashing Mr Duncan’s amendment.
Frantic efforts were reportedly under way to obtain a third 180-degree course change to convert the EU’s “S-turn” into a “W-turn”. If successful, who is to say there will not follow a fourth reversal?
On 20th December, five days before Christmas, our fishermen do not know whether the cod discard ban will be enforced on 1st January 2016.
Is there no end to the EU’s folly?
Interesting, too, that Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), reaffirming commitment to Brussels, has hired a young Spanish woman to pilot them through the narrow, treacherous channels of the pork barreling EU monster.
We wish the SFA’s initiative success but have our doubts. For every expert we hire, opponents will hire another, maintaining the “stalemate”.
Hiring ever more champions to tilt at EU bureaucrats is ultimately futile. Shetland needs control of its own fishing grounds and needs it now.
Of course, we should co-operate with our EU and Scandinavian neighbours. However, it follows that we need our own seat at the table when the extent of that co-operation is discussed.
For example, SFA chief Simon Collins has described the current pelagic fishery negotiations as “hopelessly skewed” in favour of our Scandinavian neighbours. That is so because the EU represents us, not our own negotiators.
Worse, UK and Scottish ministers have failed, repeatedly, to defend Shetland’s vital interests. Fishermen routinely refer to Scottish fisheries minister Richard Lochead (SNP) as “blockheid”.
Two ways exist to escape this lunacy:
1. Britain could demand an end to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP);
2. The UK might vote to leave the EU.
Who knows what may unfold. However, with self-rule Shetland would be able to emulate our Scandinavian neighbours by leaving the EU.
Wir Shetland needs strong support from residents. We already have more members than any of Shetland’s political parties and are continuing our recruitment drive with a presentation at Symbister Hall in Whalsay on Monday 21st December (7pm to 9pm), including our views on school closures and ferry subsidies/services, as well as fisheries management.