August 10, 2010

EU regulations can make life more dangerous

Fishing is the most dangerous industy in the UK. Fishermen in Britain have a one in 20 chance of being killed on the job during the course of their working lives, however it used to be a profitable industry that supported 10s of thousands of people. That was before we joined the EU and became involved in the CFP, the EU mysteriously gaining a competence over fishing that it had never held before the UK, with its large fishing grounds, joined. The UK gave away a fishing area equivalent to its entire land surface. This fishing area contains some of the best fishing grounds in Europe, and were far better than what anybody else put in. It used to be teeming with fish, but no longer. The EU's Common Fisheries Policy has transformed it into a wasteland through a text book example of the Tragedy of the Commons.

There are also some other effects on the fishing industry that are less well know. One of them is that the UK is one of the very few countries that actually receives less money from the EU for building boats than for scraping them. Almost every other country in the EU is being paid by the EU to build up its fishing fleet, except the UK. When new boats do get built in the UK people that live near fishing ports will have noticed that a quiet revolution has been happening in the design of fishing boats under 30 feet in length.

Smaller fishing boats used to be mainly scaled down versions of the bigger boats, but their hull plans have radically altered. Instead of being longer than they are broad they are now practically square, and very very tall compared to what went before. If you look at one of these new boats you would think they look less seaworthy than their predecessors, and you would be right: these theings bob around like a cork compared to the old style of design. So why would people in what is already a very dangerous industry spend their own money to have boats built that make it even more dangerous? The answer is simple: the EU regulations on boats under 30 feet in length are different to those above 30 feet so the fishermen have to try and cram as much boat in under that length as they are able in order to try and generate a living, even if it makes their already high chances of injury or death greater.


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