|From the pelagic to the bottom of the boat|
All of which brings us to my focus: fishy matters. Some weeks ago, I published a London Marathon training blog-post that featured graffiti on a huge fish shed in Newlyn that I noted as I ran. Here's a link to remind you or bring you to the story for the first time - press here. The graffiti had been removed the next time I ran past but the grievance against the Newlyn big-wig fishermen would not have been erased so easily. I assume this so-called 'mindless act of vandalism' was a protest by a
handful of small-scale fishermen directed at those in the local fishing industry who were controlling their operations and income. Of course, I don't know - and in the absence of investigative journalism or local knowledge, I remain in ignorance.
I was reminded of that episode in my running preparations for the London Marathon in a week's time when a new Facebook contact - Fred Greaves - sent me a link to a post he had just discovered which told the story of how a small group of millionaire families control huge swathes of the country's fishing quota. Fred had re-joined the Labour Party, as I did, at the time of Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader. We share socialist values - and he's just bought a copy of my prophetic book: 'The Road to Corbyn'.
|Available online using this link - press here.|
Here's the story that the organisation 'UNEARTHED', the journalistic arm of Greenpeace - see the link by pressing here - has uncovered after a five-month long investigation into 95% of UK fishing quota holdings, including for the first time Scotland, the UK's biggest fishing nation. Let's declare our interest although it's pretty obvious already: we're on the side of the little guys, the small-scale fishers who have long hoped for a greater share of that UK fishing quota. The quality of the lives of the many are diminished when the few develop a monopoly that concentrates wealth in their own pockets.
- More than a quarter of the UK's fishing quota is in the hands of a tiny group of the country's wealthiest families.
- Just five families - all of whom are on the Sunday Times Rich List - hold or control 29% of the UK's fishing quota.
- Just 25 businesses control more than two-thirds of that fishing quota - and more than half of those are linked to one of the biggest criminal overfishing scams ever to reach the British courts (more on that later).
- In England, nearly 80% of fishing quota is held either by foreign owners or domestic Rich List families.
- In Northern Ireland, more than half of the quota is hoarded onto a single trawler.
- These revelations come as the UK government declares that the new fisheries bill which sets the foundations of the UK fishing industry, post-Brexit, will not see any redistribution of existing quota rights - the bulk of our national fisheries will remain in the hands of a small domestic elite and a handful of foreign multinationals.
|Trawling has become more sophisticated and technical|
|East coast fishing industry - another era, long gone|
- The five largest quota-holders hold more than a third of UK fishing quota.
- Four of the top five belong to families on the Sunday Times Rich List.
- The fifth is a Dutch multinational whose UK subsidiary - North Atlantic Fishing Company - controls around a quarter of the UK fishing quota.
- Around half of the UK's fishing quota is ultimately owned by Dutch, Icelandic or Spanish interests.
- More than half (13) of the top 25 quota holders have directors, shareholders, or vessel partners who were convicted of offences in Scotland's £63 million "blackfish" scam - a huge, sophisticated fraud that saw trawlermen and fish processors working together to evade quota limits and land 170,000 tonnes of undeclared herring and mackerel.
- One of the flagships of the "Brexit flotilla" which sailed up the Thames in 2016 to demand the UK's exit from the EU is among the UK's 10 biggest quota holders.
- Around 29% of UK fishing quota is directly controlled by Rich List families. Some of these families have investments in dozens of other fishing companies, meaning companies holding 37% pf UK quota are wholly or partly owned by these Rich List families.
|A reminder of the realities of a life at sea|
|Fishing fleet - some years past|
|Fish from the pelagic zone - part of our national psyche|