Fishermen take to Thames in anti-EU protest –

Fishermen take to Thames in anti-EU protest Published:  04 May, 2007

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

A FLOTILLA of over 30 fishing vessels will sail up the Thames to Westminster in an anti-EU protest today.

The British fishermen, who will decorate their trawlers with anti-EU banners, are hoping to mar the European Union’s 50th anniversary celebrations that will take place over the next month, particularly on Europe Day, May 9.

Daryl Godbold, the main protest organiser, will lead the flotilla.

He said: “Since the EU takeover, our industry has been all but wiped out with fish stocks pushed close to extinction through over-fishing by foreign factory ships, given unfettered access to our waters.”

Martin Yorwarth, another of the fishermen taking part, said: “We’re fighting for the small inshore fisherman.

“The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) seems to be set up for big business and super-trawlers.”

Mr Yorwarth, 34, has worked as an inshore fisherman off Canvey Island, Essex, for around 18 years, where he catches mainly Dover sole, sprats and herring.

“It’s about the mismanagement of our fisheries and the mismanagement of the fish quota,” he said.

“I just think that the system hasn’t evolved fairly. I blame the EU and our own successive governments.”

He also said that although there are around 3,000 inshore vessels in the UK, they are only allocated 3% of the country’s fishing quota.

“It’s got worse and worse over the years and got to the point where we’ve got to do something. We need to act now.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Defra and the Marine Fisheries Agency continues to make every effort to secure additional quota for these vessels for example through swaps, and recently gained an extra 150 tonnes of North Sea sole to assist inshore fishermen in the Thames Estuary area.

“We will do everything we can to safeguard the future of inshore fishermen.

“Possible longer term measures addressing the issue of quota availability will be presented in the Quota Management Change Programme consultation document that will be published this summer.”

The CFP sets the quotas for how much of each type of fish each EU member state can catch.

It faces criticism from scientists and environmental groups, who are concerned about depleted fish stocks and would like tougher regulations, as well as the fisherman whose livelihoods depend on fishing.

The group has arranged the demonstration with the help of the Campaign for an Independent Britain and the support of the UK Independence Party and the RMT union.

The fishermen from Essex, Suffolk and Kent will sail up the Thames and arrive at the Houses of Parliament at around 1.30pm.

Political supporters of the protest will board the vessels at midday at St Katharine’s Pier, including RMT General Secretary Bob Crow and UKIP MEP Jeffrey Titford.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon, chairman of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, said: “I hope the public will turn out and give our beleaguered fishermen their full support.

“It is quite obscene for vast amounts of public money to be spent upon lavish festivities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of an organisation that is bleeding this country dry, financially, while drowning us in red tape and destroying important industries such as fishing.

“Frankly, they should be holding a wake, not a celebration.”

Europe’s 50th anniversary celebrations will take place across the continent over the month of May.

The London Festival of Europe and a 50th anniversary football match

between Manchester United and Europe XI were also held in March. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.