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Letters / A fighting chance

An open letter to the Yes campaign – who are continually promising our fishermen a golden era if they vote Yes – please will you correct me if anything I have said is wrong.

From all your letter writing, you seem to say that an independent Scotland will be granted automatic entry into the European Union. Where can I find written proof of this – i.e. all 28 member states have agreed to give Scotland unimpeded progress – or is it just an assumption?

Fact: What the UK fishing fleet is fishing under is a derogation from the real Common Fisheries Policy. An extract from the findings of the European Court of Justice:  “The European Court of Justice has stated that the Community System of national quotas, introduced in 1983, is a derogation from the general rule of equal access to fishery resources and the principal of non-discrimination laid down in article 40(3) of the Treaty”.

Fact: This derogation is what a lot of the local fleet and the Shetland Fish Producers Organisation have “bought” fish quota under.

Fact: When the buying and selling of quota was at its height, it was stated on the floor of the House of Commons that we could “buy” and “sell” fish as much as we liked, but it was being done under the derogation and we did not “own” it.

Fact: In a debate, in the House of Commons, on Tuesday 2 March 2004, when Alex Salmond presented his Fisheries Jurisdiction Bill, Mr Salmond spoke of, quote: “the Common Fisheries Policy, with its central provision of equal access to a common resource”.

Fact: Before an independent Scotland will even be considered for EU membership, it must accept the Acquis Communaitaire, the EU body of laws as set out in the Treaties. And what does the Acquis say about fishing? It says exactly what Alex Salmond said in 2004.

This is of crucial importance as the derogation, the quota system, applies to the UK; it does not apply to a newly independent Scotland.

If Scotland goes independent then the Scottish Government will be faced with two choices. We can stay out of the EU and our waters will become like Norway’s and Iceland’s, with control out to 200 miles and a seat at the much vaunted, much desired, much spoken about, “top table”, where we will take our place in negotiations with the EU, Norway, Iceland etc. but as far as I know the SNP/Yes campaign has never made this offer to our fishermen, as they have been to busy concocting scare stories about the wicked Tories and the dastardly Englishmen of UKIP, taking us out of the EU.

The second choice is the one which really scares me. We get independence and our membership of the EU is accepted. If it is accepted, then we will have accepted the terms of the Acquis, and we will be making Scottish waters EU waters, and the fish within these waters, a common resource. This will mean that the quota system and with it the “bought” fish will be gone, and as everything is being done under the terms of the Treaties, our fishermen will receive no recompense.

The third choice is vote NO. The fishing industry – despite the rubbish which is being strewn in its direction – will have a fighting chance, as the UK quota derogation and “bought” fish will still be with us.

Magnie Stewart

Bressay

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