Industry pressure group launches national campaign

‘Fishing for Leave’ joined by fishermen from all areas and sectors

‘Fishing for leave’, a grassroots pressure group formed by fishermen from all parts of the UK, was officially launched in April, reports David Linkie


The Fishing for Leave campaign aims to highlight the achievements, dynamism and determination of the UK fishing industry, and to inform the general British public how much better things could, and should, be if their country is released from the top-down central control exerted by the EU.

The independent campaign will also highlight the indignities and devastation wrought to the UK fishing industry by the fatally flawed CFP, and underline the betrayal of a critical national resource to a public who remain unaware of this national tragedy, and in doing so, hopes to feed support and momentum to the wider leave campaign.

The idea for ‘Fishing For leave’ was put forward by skipper Aaron Brown (Achieve BF 233) earlier this month, since when he has been supported by a number of very experienced skippers and fishermen’s representatives from as far afield as Shetland, south to Newlyn, and from Fraserburgh across the Irish Sea to Kilkeel.

Before ‘Fishing for Leave’ was even launched, more than 40 vessels, including demersal, pelagic and shellfish boats, had joined the campaign as word of mouth spread around the fleet. This initial strong groundswell of support is expected to rapidly gain further momentum as the campaign was unveiled.

Aaron Brown said: “We have brought together a core of administrators/contributors from all round Britain and from every sector. This will provide a national network for people to liaise with, and facilitate a nationwide campaign for the whole industry. We aim to represent every sector and region, and bring different aspects and knowledge to the fray. This will allow everyone to have their voice heard and lend their shoulder to the wheel. The campaign will not only convey the hard figures of fishing, but also portray the community aspect that underpins the industry.

“Fishing for Leave is an independent campaign set up by people in the fishing industry for people in the fishing industry, to provide a voice for the whole industry, no matter what size or sector, and to fight veraciously and tenaciously for our way of life and very publicly thunder – We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore!

“We aim to have a dynamic, interactive campaign to take the fishing industry’s point of view to the wider public, utilising a website, film and social media.

“We will be working in conjunction with the main players in the Leave campaign through mutual co-operation and support, to get our voices heard across the public domain.

“The overriding goal in doing so, through and with the voice of the industry, is to ensure the restoration of the sovereignty of our parliament and people, and, with that, the restoration of our waters to national control. For too long we have been made to beg for the scraps of our own fish from the EU table at Brussels.

“Britain leaving the EU will see an automatic restoration of the 200nm/mid-line boundaries, bringing everything within our waters back into our jurisdiction, and leave behind a regime where our national resource is horse-traded away as part of a political project before our eyes. Fundamental international law recognises the sea and its resources as being as much a part of the country as the land. However these rights were surrendered on Britain joining the EU and became a common EU resource. Rather than being a common pot of fish, it is British and therefore it is only within the power of our parliament to decide who gets what quota.”

“The industry has such an opportunity for a bright future. We have the stocks, the skill, the knowledge, the boats, the infrastructure and the commitment for this industry to flourish for the benefit of future generations of fishermen.

“Is taking the slight risk of leaving, and the subsequent re-adjustment this will entail, not worth ending the nightmare the industry has had to endure?

“If we are half the people our ancestors once were, now’s the time to reach out with both hands and fight for the opportunity to save everything we are. Our industry has been sacrificed to the EU by complicit politicians and consequently decimated through deliberate political neglect. Will we be the generation who throws away a great country many fought so hard for, with an apathetic shrug of the shoulders?”

“Therefore we appeal to each and every boat, business and individual to sign up to support and assist Fishing for Leave. Let us go forward together with this campaign to unite the industry under a broad banner. To use our collective strength to fight to free our country and in doing so, Save Britain’s Fish.”

For further details of the ‘Fishing for leave’ campaign, including an application form, constitution details and fund raising merchandise, go to

Industry comments

David Stevens

Crystal Sea SS 118

“When you work in an industry you love, and see it being run in a completely wasteful and incoherent manner, the first question anyone would ask is “why not do it a better way.”

We, as fisherman, ask this question day in, day out. There has to be a better way! Then you look at the sham deal they gave our prime minister. This is what we get every December at the Fisheries Council; fudged deals just to hold on to an outdated and unworkable fishery framework, commonly known as the CFP.

That’s why Crystal Sea is in support of the leave campaign. We want a better future for our fishery and our fishing communities.

John Buchan

Atlantic Challenge

PD 197

Since the EU referendum was announced in February, I have become increasingly disappointed as most of the powerful voices in our Scottish industry have refrained from stepping on toes and rocking the proverbial boat in Europe because, apparently, it would not be in the industry’s long-term interest.

After 40 years of betrayal I see it very differently, hence I fully endorse the ‘Fishing for Leave’ campaign. At last we have a chance to tell the Great British public a few home truths about our once great industry. How we have been continually been sold down the river for the bigger picture and for the so-called greater good. In my own case, during the setting of the TACs for the deep water species, when the French presidency proceeded to move the goalposts to their own industry’s advantage and left the British deep water fleet without any fish. Similar threads of the same story have been a recurring theme over the past 30-40 years eg how the English fleet has just 20% of the French quotas in the Channel and Celtic Sea; how the Spanish got so much access; how the coastal state of the UK has to allow a Mediterranean commissioner to lead in the North Atlantic quota talks with Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic fisheries.   

‘Fishing for Leave’ is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save what’s left of our industry and hopefully rebuild part of it.   

Carol Macdonald

Cod Crusader

From a community aspect I didn’t hesitate to participate in ‘Fishing for Leave’ when I was asked, even though it’s more than a decade now since my finger was on the fishing industry’s pulse.

However, from a community perception, the ever-decreasing fishing activity is visible within communities with fishing dependence. This not so gradual downturn continues to affect local businesses and employment opportunities. Being part of the EU, and its ridiculous rules and regulations, has seriously damaged countless fishing communities and badly eroded a previously sustainable way of life

Jim Portus


I will be voting to Leave the EU on June 23rd because, not only do I not believe the ‘scare-mongers’ in the ‘Remain’ camp, but I am also convinced by the arguments set out in George Eustice’s position paper on fisheries after Brexit. Furthermore, as a quota manager, I have wrestled for many years with having never enough quotas. Not only was the UK stitched up in the 1983 agreement in relation to Area 7, but the UK had also to share its meagre rations with those ‘Flags of Convenience’ vessels that have masqueraded as British since 1977. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1988 tried to end the pariah of quota-hopping, only to have its provisions dashed by the European Court of Justice. If we leave the EU we can not only negotiate better terms of access to waters and resources, but our parliament can be sovereign once more, no longer bowing to the ECJ. Regaining those quotas may not be a priority, but in the longer term it would be best if British fish is caught by British fishermen. I say bring on Brexit and let’s take back control of that which should be controlled by the UK for the benefit of the UK.

William Whyte

Forever Grateful FR 271

Over the past years, since becoming more involved in our family fishing business, I have witnessed first-hand exactly how ludicrous and weak the EU negotiating power regarding fish taken from UK waters actually is. When pelagic fish stock quotas are discussed at coastal states meetings etc, the UK doesn’t even have a seat at the table; we have to rely on our own UK fisheries ministers etc, whispering in the EU negotiator’s ear before the meeting, and cross our fingers that they come back with a better deal for us, the fishermen.

It seems at these meetings, whoever digs their heels in most, comes back with the best deal, and the EU is mostly always the first to give in. Why can’t the UK directly have a seat at this table, considering it’s fish from our waters that’s being discussed? This will only be achievable if we leave the EU.

Over decades, the UK Pelagic fleet have invested huge amounts of money and made slow, steady progress, whereas the Faroese, for example, have made just as much progress in 10 years as we have done in 50! This, in my view, is because they have a government that is behind their fishing fleet – they dig their heels in – and our EU fisheries people have given in to their demands and let them plunder tens of thousands of tons of high value species like mackerel from UK waters. On the horizon, we have countries like Iceland and Greenland who have seen how easy it was for Faroe to get a share, and they want a share too, where will this share come from? Of course it will be from the UK’s TAC. We must gain control on negotiations to stop Brussels giving away any more fish.

If we were to leave the EU, I would like to think that we would retain most of the conservation measures that are already in place, but more importantly, let fishermen have input and a say on what measures should, and should not, be implemented in the future, and not just thrust upon us by Brussels without the fisherman having any input.