Fishing, like mining, is an occupation with deep roots in Cornish history. Cornish people feel a strong attachment to fishing, and decline of the industry in recent years has caused many communites in Cornwall, not just coastal ones, to develop a great sense of being ‘left behind’.
Blame for decline of Cornish fishing, especially of inshore, coastal fisheries, has been firmly laid by politicians and the media at the door of the European Union, especially the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), to which the UK signed up when it joined the then EEC in 1973. Loss of fishing, along with low wages, second homes etc, has led to great hardship among Cornwall’s coastal communities.
In fact, responsibility for decline of coastal fishing in Cornwall lies as much with successive UK goverments’ own administration of the Common Fisheries Policy as with the policy itself, and in particular with the practice of leasing of fishing quotas to the highest bidder. This policy, plus the fact that when the UK signed up to the CFP, small boats (i.e. those less than 10 m in length) were left out of original calculations of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), has led to a greater proportion of UK fishing quotas being owned by ‘foreign’ boats than that of any other EU member. Operators of small boats find it difficult to obtain quotas, or must sub-let them from larger organisations.
We therefore decided as a Cornwall CLP to campaign for a Fair Deal for Cornish Coastal Fisheries, to obtain a fairer share of UK quotas for small boats. We believe this will bring great economic benefits to Cornwall’s coastal communities, and generate strong ‘multiplier’ effects in the form of increased employment, higher incomes, greater prosperity and enhanced sense of community. Our CLP’s submission on coastal fishing to the Labour Policy Consultation 2018 ‘A Greener Britain’ is set out below.
A similar resolution was also recently adopted by Cornwall Labour Local Campaign Forum.
We were therefore very pleased to learn that Labour’s new enviromental policy document The Green Transformation states that Labour will:
Reconfigure funds for farming and fishing to support sustainable practices, smaller traders, local economies and community benefits
Establish a science innovation fund to promote the most sustainable forms
of farming and fishing, with support earmarked for our small-scale fishing fleet
Review the allocation of UK fishing quota to promote the most sustainable fishing
practices, in a way that benefits coastal communities and the small-scale fishing
Meanwhile, our local MP, Mrs Sheryll Murray continues to portray herself as the champion of Cornish fishing, but Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s recent Fisheries Bill says nothing new about allocating a fairer share of the UK catch to smaller boats, Brexit or no Brexit.
Also available are our submission on this topic to the National Policy Forum, and a link to a background paper on Coastal Fishing co-written by one of our members.
Links to articles in the national press on this subject are also listed below.
If you would like more detail, here is a presentation on this topic given recently by our Energy and Environment Coordinator, who is happy to come and give this talk to local branches and other groups. NB: you may need a version of Power Point to read this presentation.
Finally, here is a recording by a local band from SE Cornwall of a song by Cornish songwriter Jon Heslop which seems to sum up many people’s feelings about this issue.
Other campaign pages on this site are: