Fishing firms are involved in a legal challenge to force the UK government to hold a referendum on membership of the European Union.Such a move could see an end to both Britain's membership of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and fears that British fishing interests will be irreparably harmed by the CFP review and the full admission of Iberian states to all EU waters.
According to a report in Fishing News, Fraserburgh-based electronics firm RD Downie and Malvern-based Electronic Devices Ltd are among a fleet of firms which have flocked to join the referendum campaign organised by the Federation of Small Businesses. It is also supported by the Euro-sceptic Democratic Party.
Electronic Devices managing director Geoff Southall said that fishermen would be "extremely interested" in the legal action, given the increasingly restrictive nature of EU regulation and pressures leading to an ever decreasing fishing fleet.
Such a referendum would be a "golden opportunity" for fishermen to return to the situation before Britain joined the Common Market in 1972. Since then, Britain, which has the largest fish resource in the EU, has seen its fleet decline, while foreign owned flagships have risen in number.
Spain has also recently reiterated its right to have access to all EU fish stocks as well as sea areas.
According to the group's legal advisor, QC John Macdonald, the legal challenge has a better than 50 per cent chance of success, if conducted in a thoroughgoing manner. It is expected the case will go to the House of Lords, but the campaign will steer clear of the European Courts as the group does not recognise the legitimacy of EU institutions.
The case is expected to be mounted 'imminently' although so far only GBP 100,000 of its expected GBP 200,000 legal costs have been raised.