By Emily Furness
The outcome of the referendum to be held on Thursday, 23 June 2016 to decide whether Britain stays in or leaves the European Union, will majorly affect Cornwall’s fishing industry.
Cornwall has received more than £1bn from the EU over the past fifteen years and over £1.8 million from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).
Andy Wheeler, Assistant to the Chief Executive of Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) said: “Leaving the EU could mean trade tariffs being imposed or restrictions on direct landings into French ports by Cornish vessels, and restricts access to French and Irish waters, which means profits within the Cornish fishing industry could be depleted.”
The £1.8 million of the European Fisheries Fund has been devoted to support the sustainable development of fishing communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Local inshore fisherman of Falmouth, Chris Bean, said: “I’m definitely going to vote to stay in the EU, as an inshore fisherman the only protection we really have is the EU umbrella of quotas and sustainable fishing.”
Bean added: “EU council ministers in the Common Fisheries Agricultural Policy are moving more to the left and more for conservation to help the small vessel. If we move out of the EU, we will be at the mercy in the UK of the big vessel owners and big corporations…they will call the shots.”
A majority of fishermen in Falmouth are keen “outers” or Euroscpetics as they would be free of EU quotas and in the long term it could mean that fishermen are allowed to catch more fish.
George Eustice, MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, said: “Outside the EU, we would re-establish national control for 200 nautical miles or the median line as provided for in international law…we could argue for a fairer share of quota allocations in many fish stocks.”
Some Cornish MPs are voting to leave the EU and feel that this decision will benefit the Cornish Industry.
Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall, said: “Our fishermen have been decimated by the EU, and only by leaving can they get their waters back and not have to contend with foreign trawlers who plunder their stocks.”
Both the Eurosceptics and Europhiles of Cornwall are both in agreement that the European referendum holds great uncertainty for the Cornish fishing industry.