Speaking in the Stormont ssembly on a proposed Fisheries Bill, TUV leader Jim Allister called for a UK exit from the EU to save the fishing industry.
In the course of his remarks Mr Allister said sea fisheries in Northern Ireland in recent decades, have been devastated when you compare them with the bustling growth industries that manifested themselves in Portavogie, Kilkeel and Ardglass.
He addeed: “It really is a depressing and sad story. There was a time when, in the huge harbour in Kilkeel, you could walk from one harbour wall to the other simply by going from deck to deck on all the boats. Today, the harbour is a mere shadow of itself.
“The elephant in the room, which virtually no one has referred to, is, of course, the EU. It is because of our membership of the European Union that our fishing industry has been devastated. It is EU regulation that has strangled it and which decides when you can fish, where you can fish, how you can fish and how much you can fish. All of that comes from the diktats of Brussels. It is that which has strangled and squeezed the lifeblood out of our fishing industry. Now, clause 6 in this Bill wants to tighten the noose a bit further. It wants to put it beyond doubt that all EU provisions that pertain to fishing are directly applicable and can and will be enforced directly on the already devastated industry in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Allister.
“I have heard some people say that we should wait. Yes, we should, because there may well be salvation coming for the fishing industry of Northern Ireland, and that would be Britain’s exit from the EU. I trust that the day will soon come when this Bill, in its folly of tightening the noose, will not be necessary and that we will no longer have our industry devastated by and controlled from Brussels. I trust that we will have an industry that is liberated to rediscover, and be reinvigorated in plotting its own future rather than be mercilessly controlled by the bureaucrats of Brussels who divide up the fishing rights of these United Kingdom waters among nations far, far away.
“There is hope that this Bill will be rendered unnecessary in terms of sea fisheries and there is hope for the sea fishing industry, and it lies in this nation, the United Kingdom, reasserting control over its own affairs.
“If ever there was an industry that cried out for that, it is the fishing industry. I trust that the British people, in their wisdom, will have the strength, courage, conviction and foresight to do that in the referendum, whether it comes this June or whenever. Then, this Bill will be largely redundant, like EU regulation itself,” Mr Allister concluded.