Why Whalsay voted out (Joseph Kay)

After over 40 years of EU rule the British people democratically voted for “British independence”.

So did we in Whalsay with evidence suggesting an 82 per cent majority in favour of leave.

Of many other benefits as a result of this hard-won battle Britain will be allowed to take back control of its territorial waters. Control of “British waters” alone offers huge potential and rewards for this country. In a world with ever increasing population and food shortages this is a huge asset for the UK.

Examples are many and an instance comes to mind, when as a fisherman (before I was purged from the job by the EU and a compliant Scottish government almost 13 years ago) I was working northwest of Flugga.

Whitefish and pelagic trawlers were working within a 10-mile radius. French, Norwegian, Scottish and Irish vessels were all there.

Knowing what our local boats were catching we figured that this fleet’s catch in that small area amounted to more than the Brent oilfield’s production in monetary terms (taking each over a 24-hour period) and this fish resource if properly managed is infinite.

Full control of UK waters is a huge asset to Shetland and the UK as a whole, yielding a high-quality food resource in an increasingly hungry world.

We have a second chance at this. We know from bitter experience that it has been easy to give away and mismanage this precious resource, then bow our heads and say: “It was the best possible deal under the circumstances.” And it usually was, as you were arguing against more than 20 opposing countries.

So it is of vital importance to get it right this time. I do not underestimate the challenge in convincing the UK government on this, but it has been done before, when the British government helped the British fishing industry to rebuild after the Second World War.

This was a complete success and took Shetland from a backward and impoverished place and made it prosperous. By the mid/late 1960s here in Whalsay fishing could support its entire community.

There are also plenty of examples on a national basis of how to better manage fisheries. In fact on every side of us, Norway, Faroe and Iceland all have better management regimes than we have had latterly.

That is because those neighbouring countries are all in charge of their own territorial waters and effectively manage them in a practical and sustainable manner, giving them maximum benefit from their marine resources, which those countries have not failed to realise the full potential of.

Good luck to those entrusted with representing the fishing industry and to those in fisheries management in the future UK fishing industry, which can now be on the ascendancy.

Joseph Kay
18 Tripwell,


Add Your Comment
  • Robin Barclay

    • July 1st, 2016 10:55

    Since it almost seems inevitable that the SNP will now pursue Scottish independence from the UK on the grounds that the will of the Scottish people to remain in the EU has been thwarted, maybe they shouldn’t be so gung-ho about offering to seek re-entry to the EU for an independent Scotland. They should consider the Norway model, with membership of EFTA, accepting free movement (needed), but retaining control of seas. They might need a navy to enforce control. We need to find out what the Norwegians think – some I know aren’t so happy with their deal.

  • Tim Parkinson

    • July 1st, 2016 16:23

    Wasn’t it a combination of EU grants and loans, and HIDB that lifted Shetland fisherman from the “far haaf in a sixereen”, and a Shetland pony; to the multi-million pound purse seiners and 18 year old crewmen being able to put an Audi in the ditch in Whalsay one night buy a new one with cash next day?

    And , by landing these massive catches simultaneously and competitively, drove down the price at the morning markets forcing the small wooden boats out of business?

    I was at those markets in Lerwick and Scalloway in the 70s

    I also remember the cod wars with Iceland,, which were not a joke!

    If we don’t have competition of nations to struggle and restrict each other for some kind of sustainable model, what will stop a UK government taking the short term popularist approach and allowing you to dredge our ( your?) waters seven days a week , so you can retire early in luxury, keep re-electing the brexiteers and leave nothing for the bairns? ( fish OR wider social economy!)

    I’m sure it cant be as simple as that , so I’m sure there are a few who will kindly put me right?

    • John Tulloch

      • July 4th, 2016 11:34

      Tim, many who survived have done well. This is about the tens of thousands disenfranchised with no way back.

      EU Grants? the linked table shows that France receives twice, and Spain four times, the grants received by the UK – to fish in our waters! That is what the EU does with the UK’s £10 billion pa net contribution.

      The EU hi-jacked, not only British fishing grounds but also Danish and Irish ones by passing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) into law, SIX HOURS before acceptance of the four fishing nations’ joining applications (Norway withdrew).

      Heath’s acceptance led to the disappearance of the British fishing fleet e.g. Grimsby reportedly had 700 trawlers in 1970 and now has 5! The Shetland whitefish fleet was badly hit and many vessels were decommissioned.

      Quota (EU) is only one way of managing fish stocks and a major disadvantage is that in multi-species fisheries like Shetland’s whitefish, it leads inevitably to discarding. Other methods e.g. Faroe, do not..

      The discard ban is forecast to cost the Shetland whitefish fleet 40-60 percent of revenue (per J Wills, vice president, NSC MRG).

      Shetland’s economy needs fishing now that oil is in trouble.

    • Joseph Kay

      • July 5th, 2016 20:44

      Mr Parkinson
      You may have spent some time in the fish-market but your knowledge of the fishing industry and its history in Shetland is sketchy. It could all be explained in full, but in your case I believe that would be a complete waste of time.

    • George Anderson

      • July 12th, 2016 12:19

      Mr Parkinson You seem to have an exceptional understanding of the history of the Whalsay fishing industry. I would be very grateful if you could , reveal your source of information also the contact details of the government body’s who paid out the grants and European funding . Rgds George Anderson

  • malcolm hutchison

    • July 6th, 2016 20:11

    Could you tell me Mr. Parkinson, just how many of Whalsay’s pelagic fleet has been built with. EU or HIDB funding? come to think of it how many of Whalsay’s fishing fleet have been built with EU or HIDB funding?

  • Tim Parkinson

    • July 12th, 2016 13:34

    “Recent press reports have commented that the Shetland island of Whalsay alone has at least 20 millionaire fishermen who own the lion’s share of the island’s £16 million fishing fleet. Just about a week ago, the newest trawler from Whalsay, the 211 ft Zephyr, which is capable of carrying 16,000 tonnes of fish, set out on her maiden voyage. That new boat is estimated to have cost £9 million and it is the latest of seven ships being built for Shetland fishermen…………In total, about £63 million has been paid to the industry from public and Community funds in the past three years, with a further £68 million under other EU structural grant measures.”

    Hansard 16th Dec 1996; Mr Tony Baldrey Minister for Ag & Fish

    “When a new Highland and Islands Development Board (HIDB)
    grant and loan scheme was introduced during the 1970s four new whitefish vessels
    were ordered within months of its inception (Byron, 1987). This was a decisive step as
    Burra thereafter invested in whitefish vessels exclusively, albeit in a contracted fishing
    industry given the link to the mainland.”

    Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures
    Volume 8 Number 2 2014

    • joseph kay

      • July 18th, 2016 0:30

      Tim Parkinson
      Your comments on fishing and Whalsay are woefully inaccurate, EU grants were paid to a few fishing vessels as an introductory offer shortly after we joined the common market, a sweetener was all it proved to be, none of the large Pelagic boats were built with EU help. You like many more itch to have a go at the large pelagic boats in our fleet. However I ask off you, take a moment and consider objectively the true worth of the fishing industry to Shetland and the UK as a whole, take our seven pelagic boats for example, who in a few weeks fishing in a 12 month period can quickly re-coup their cost and pay considerable dividends to their owners, there is a huge stock of mackerel and herring in what should become UK waters , then we could not only provide a longer season for those established vessels but could supply more UK fishing vessels with entitlement by Britain taking control of its own waters. An example of how poorly such a fishing has been managed latterly is an absolute ban on drift netting for herring, a fishery proved sustainable for centuries and something which may have benefited the smaller vessels in our fleet, especially in the first of the summer when no herring is being landed, this would ease pressure on shellfish stocks and do absolutely no damage to the stocks of herring, those smaller craft do have some small quota for whitefish and mackerel but it is a ridiculously small tonnage, as I have said before Faeroe has over 1,200 small boats under 15 tons perusing such fisheries, you say its been reported that Whalsay has over 20 millionaires ! That is only two boats crews ! The largest of the pelagic boats are worth over 100 million with quotas and licences, yes there is a lot of wealth in Whalsay, and it is an example of what can be made even with a system working against you, take control, manage our own fisheries fairly and sustain-ably and allow the fishing Industry to fulfill its full potential and the increased benefits will be seen in Whalsay and every other fishing community in the UK.

  • Tom Patterson

    • August 22nd, 2016 22:17

    To Joseph Kay;
    My last two posts (woefully inaccurate?) contain none of my own words but are direct quotes from the sources cited, in response to Malcolm Hutchinson’s challenge.

    I fully concur with your point about the wider value of nurturing the wider industry and smaller players outside of the big boats.

    But how are you going to do that once all of the Euro quotas and regulations are no longer applicable in UK waters?

    Do we really think the UK government will alienate potential trading partners by spending billions on armed fishery protection vessels and actively exclude the fleets that will come the minute EU regulations no longer restrict them in UK waters?

    A Govt. that was still decommissioning coastguard vessels and reducing customs and border control officers, even as illegal immigration was driving the brexit and nearly bringing down the government?

    I fear a free-for-all invasion, and that you will have no option but to fish 7 days a week to get your share of what is left, before UK waters are empty again.

    Partly beneficial; Partly damagingly restrictive; Partly dysfunctional; Partially Corrupt.
    But the EU may yet prove to have been the least worst option!

  • ian tinkler

    • August 23rd, 2016 15:27

    Déjà vu from Tom
    Now, “But the EU may yet prove to have been the least worst option!” Tom Patterson, August 22nd, 2016 .
    Then, “but I do know that if we vote “n”o in the referendum, Westminster will be able to do what Thatcher did to us with impunity because its only fear of the referendum that is holding them off at the moment.” “So what is the least worst option?” Tom Patterson November 8th, 2012 Shetland Times.
    Some things never change!!!


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