Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Fishing for fury
24 March 2018, 20:29 | Updated: 24 March 2018, 20:33
Nigel Farage went fishing this week, sporting a brown pin-striped suit, cufflinks, a spotted silk tie and a melancholy look on his face. He didn't quite get the hang of it – you're supposed to pull live fish from the river and put them in the boat, not arrive with dead fish and throw them in the water.
Still, practice makes perfect – if at first you get it all wrong, read a manual. He could bone up on it while being fitted for a sou'wester.
The act of fishing itself was not the issue. As it was our Nige, the issue was, of course, the EU.
The Prime Minister, Mrs M, has agreed to remain within the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy for around 20 months after Britain’s glorious exit on March 29, 2019.
Farage needed to display his displeasure. He has a history of showing the utmost concern for the plight of the British fishermen, having gone to fully one of the 42 meetings of the EU's Fisheries Committee, of which he is a member.
One out of 42. That shows commitment to the cause.
He highlighted to the attending press that we should think of all those fish that are ours by right that will be caught by representatives of the unelected European socialist superstate.
What no-one seemed to question was our right to those fish.
Why are the fish ours?
Fish don’t vote, they don’t have nationality, they move about – why do they become ours the moment they swim to within a certain arbitrarily determined distance from our coast?
Why aren’t they Iceland's? If they swim past Iceland before they get here, then they should be caught by their country of origin shouldn’t they?
If refugees come to Europe, people say that they should stay in the first country they arrive in, so why is it the opposite for other species?
The fish aren’t British any more than the air that crosses the country is British – they belong to the Europe because that’s where most of them get born and live and die.
And besides – according to government figures, 3 of the top 5 most valuable UK fisheries are for shellfish – prawns, scallops and crabs.
They live nearby, don’t move about like other fish and we have almost complete control over them. We have exclusive access to waters six miles from our coasts.
We don't like that stuff much though. We export 85% of it, mostly to...the EU.
The British consumer prefers the white, bland fish that swims further out, in what not even the most ardent patriot would call our waters.
British fishermen feel ignored and fear for a dying industry but pretty much every manual labourer could say the same over the past 40 years.
Coal miners, ship builders and factory workers have all suffered job losses, or the total collapse of their industries.
Fishing has been affected but not as much as some trades.
According to the government's own figures, there were an estimated 11,757 fishermen in 2016, down 9 per cent since 2006.
What manual industry hasn’t seen a 9% fall in employment since 2006?
In 2016, UK vessels landed 701 thousand tonnes of sea fish (including shellfish) into the UK and abroad with a value of £936 million. This represents a 21 percent increase in value, compared with 2015.
Fish imports are more or less what they were in 2006 and exports are more or less the same too.
If you offered that state of affairs to the British steel worker, they'd take it hook, line and sinker.