W2W - supporting our fishermen

FEW have suffered more from our membership of the EU than our fishermen.

A skeleton industry now exits where once we had a thriving fishing fleet, providing a living for one proud generation after another.

Hopefully, leaving the EU will see a resurgence in this tough business as we leave the Common Fisheries Policy and reinstate the 200-mile limit, which is internationally recognized by the UN.

Currently, EU-imposed limit is only 12 miles.

The move is long overdue and the point was reinforced in a recent briefing to British MEPs by new DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove.

Interestingly, Mr Gove’s father was one of the many fishermen to lose their livelihoods when we joined the EU.

While all this is most welcome news, it’s guaranteed to trigger a diplomatic row.

Our valuable, territorial fishing waters have long been a source of contention with Europe.

At present, manifestly unfair quotas allow the French 84 per cent and Britain 9 per cent of Channel cod.

And a single Dutch trawler, sailing under the British flag, currently takes 23 per cent of the entire English fishing quota.

During the infamous “cod wars” with Iceland, between 1958 and 1976, our warships had to protect British trawlers.

At the dispute’s height, 22 naval frigates were deployed, backed up by Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft.

Ironically, defence cuts saw the Nimrods scrapped in 2011, while the Royal Navy currently musters only 13 frigates.

This, again highlights the dangers of reducing our Armed Forces, and especially the navy, which we need now just as we did in the past.

It’s a sobering thought that, even as we reclaim our sovereignty, we have placed at risk the ability to defend it.