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THE FACT that our coastal waters are full of fish that we have a right to catch, eat and trade is a no-brainer. But you wouldn’t have thought so while Britain was a member of the European Union or, subsequently, coping with the sell-out Tory EU exit deal.
The subtitle of Brian Denny's booklet — Develop Our Coastal Communities for a Sustainable Future in an Independent Britain — nicely sets out how an independent future is on the cards.
But a sustainable fishing industry depends on the momentum built after 2026, following which Britain has the right to exclude EU boats from its fishing waters, though no-one wants a return to the farcical cod wars with Iceland of the 1970s.
“The fishing industry is worth billions to this country and could create thousands of highly skilled, well-paid jobs in coastal communities that desperately need them,” Denny writes in the introduction. In the following sections, he goes on to explain why the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was a “great betrayal,” highlights environmental concerns and spells out what is wrong with the quota system.
The section Building a post-Brexit Fishing Industry offers a chronology from what went wrong to how it can be made right and, in this sense, the pamphlet is a manifesto for how an island nation can sustain its people, fish stocks and the industry itself through intelligent and forward-looking planning.
There are lots of “I didn’t know that” moments — that the average age of Britain’s fishermen is 57, yet there are no plans yet to encourage younger people into the industry, that the CFP’s over-fishing has led to millions of tons of dead fish being dumped back into the sea and that the majority of our fish quota is owned by foreign interests and a few millionaires.
It's a meticulously researched booklet with a refreshing clarity to the writing. Next time you have a fish supper, you will feel better informed.
Published by Rebuild Britain, £2.50.
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