Friday, 27 August 2010


I was choked with laughter when I read two articles on the same page of the Press and Journal today. A classic story of the British (and what’s worse, in this case, Scottish) giving Johnny Foreigner a telling off whilst there is a gaping hole in compliance with our own rules.

The first story involves the Icelandic and Faroese governments increasing their quotas of Mackerel fishing by, in some cases, threefold.

Tory MEP Struan Stevenson described the Icelanders and Faroese as like “Viking raiders”. The SNP Fisheries Minister Richard Lochead said that the boost to their quotas was “wholly unacceptable” and that it risked damaging well-managed stocks of fish.

On the same page, the very next story refers to six Scottish skippers and the Lerwick based Shetland Catch Limited who, between 2002 and 2005, illegally landed £15 million worth of so called black fish, i.e. over and above their quota.

Now, like many others, I disapprove heartily of the European Union fishing quota policy. I realise that fish stocks have to be conserved, but I think that Scottish fishermen have been treated shabbily, because they have always been represented in Brussels by an English fisheries minister who knew nothing and cared even less about the Scottish fishing industry, for which he did not even have responsibility!

But before Stevenson and Lochead go running off at the mouth about these foreigners, I think it would be a good idea to check that the reporting of it is unlikely to end up on the same page as the above story. It really makes them both look a tad foolish. Mr Lochead’s assertion that the Scottish fisheries were well managed was hilarious, given the positioning of the two articles, and Mr Stevenson’s comparison with Viking raiders is a tad on the silly side. I really thought that being rude to our nearest neighbours was Jim Murphy’s job!

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation insisted that the incidents of millions of pounds worth of illegally landed fish had nothing to do with the current quota debacle. They claimed that it was all years ago a “drop in the ocean” as it were..... But then they would wouldn’t they?

Honestly if these six were all on the hey diddle diddle, who’s to say there are not many more out there (like in the House of Commons) at it?

I don’t think if I were Icelandic or Faroese that I would be terribly convinced that this wasn’t just another example of a typically British attitude. Canting hypocrisy is the phrase that comes to mind.

Pics: Iceland fisheries vessel; Mr Lochead; Mr Stevenson


  1. We must be the only country in the world who pay an undemocratic organisation to allocate our own fishing quotas. R. Lochead should of been openly condemning the fishermen who landed the 'black fish' as they do an injustice to the honest ones.
    He should be highlighting his disgust of the Faroes treatment of marine mammals as well.

  2. That's an horrific story CH.

    I would hope that Mr Lochart would condemn this sort of thing. I certainly do.

    I find it quite strange given that the Faroes is a highly developed, wealthy and sophisticated society. Indeed as I recall it figurse very high on the CIA's list of develped countries, way above the UK or the US itself!

    It seems strange that these fishermen would behave in what appears to be a barbaric way. It may of course be tradition. There are many barbaric traditions from before the days when anyone thought anything of the feelings of other species (or even of many of our own!).

    It just seemed bizarre to me that Richard was talking about the system being well managed when the next story on the page showed just how badly managed it was.

    Of course I accept that the case was some years ago, and took place under a different Scottish administration, but I'd like assurances that this isn't still happening.

    I still say we need to have a Scottish minister fighting the very specific case for Scottish fishermen in Bruxelles.

    The English fisheries minister is NOT the UK fisheries minister; he is the ENGLISH fisheries minister.

    I suppose this is another example of what a mess they made of devolution. You should either have state or federal authority, not some sort of mixture.

    Clearly there are many ministers in London whose responsibility is for English matters, but who can stray into Scottish affairs from time to time.

  3. The Faroes aren't the only guilty country Tris who indulge in these barbaric activities using scientific, tradition or economic reasons as an excuse. They ignore the number of dangerous toxins stored in their flesh as the industry creates 'jobs more important' for the economy.

    I could go on but won't.

  4. It is a difficult problem which I suppose may get worse. Jobs are important in fragile economies and whilst I am in agreement that it is deplorable to use barbaric practices on animals of any kind (I rescue moths from water butts and blow on them till they are dry), I also understand that as more an more of our work goes to China, India and Brazil we will have more and more difficulty in providing jobs in the West.

    In the UK we manufacture barbaric weapons which we sell to countries which do with them the most barbaric things to their neighbours and to their own people sometimes. But every time we talk about the possibility of turning 'spears into ploughshares', we are reminded that the economy depends upon these "spears".

    I do agree with you though CH.

  5. I suppose we can’t not point out the times where the SNP Government could have looked at the bigger picture and not fallen into the trap of appearing to be hypocritical. This blog often points out where the other main parties do it so it is only fair to point out where our own do it. And in this instance I think that they have omitted to look at the bigger picture before jumping in with both feet. We are not here to lecture the rest of the world on the way to behave especially when our own example falls so very far short of the mark. Let’s leave that to the English Government and let them make international fools of themselves.