When the Common Market was set up, the UK tried twice to join in the 1960s and was told “Non”. So when Edward Heath became Prime Minister in 1970 he was determined at all costs to get us in and one of the main costs was the Common Fisheries Policy which he agreed to. This meant that our territorial fishing grounds all round the British Isles were to be shared among the other Common Market countries and we received quotas of fish we could cash and zones where we could catch them on an equal basis with these other countries. The result over the last 45 years has been that many of our traditional fishing communities have dwindled away, huge amounts of edible fish are routinely thrown back dead into the sea by our remaining fishermen to avoid fines for “over-fishing” and sea fishing is now often seen as a quaint historical activity, a bit like coal-mining, that we only learn about in museums and tourist attractions.
Attempts have been made to change the Common Fisheries Policy over the years, but our fishermen are still restricted about when and where and what they can catch and how much. Boats are still being laid up and young men from fishing families are trying to go into other trades, instead of following in the family business. If we stay in the EU the decline will continue and less and less of your fish will be caught by UK boats. Free of the EU restrictions we could impose our own protection areas to preserve fish stocks and export fish to the Continent. Our fishing communities would start to pick up and new boats would be built, revitalising the boat-building industry in the depressed areas round the UK coast.