neil birrell (neil@lds.co.uk)
Sat, 13 Jan 1996 19:12:43 +0100

TEL: UK 0171 2479249


Nearly a year ago Canadian gun-boats were seizing Spanish
trawlers and their crews even though they were fishing
outside the 200-mile exclusion zone imposed by the
Canadians. Needless to say, the representatives of the
British fishing industry, and interests, were waving the
Canadian flag and were up in arms at the EU's ruling that as
from January of this year some forty Spanish and
Portuguese boats would be allowed to fish in the so-called
'Irish Box'. Meanwhile the EU ministers have agreed on
fishing quotas for 1996.

Needless to say the headlines, especially of newspapers
such as the East Anglian Daily Times (which has a large
circulation in the coastal towns of East Anglia and one
imagines that in the North and in Cornwall it is likewise), are
denouncing the Spaniards, the government and are crying
their eyes out about the poor hard-working fishermen being
driven out of a livelihood by 'Brussels' and 'the Spaniards'.

What utter nonsense! Let's deal with the Spanish 'invasion'
first. The Irish Box, so-called, is an area of 92,000 square
miles. As we pointed out in Freedom (11th February 1995):=20

"It is ironical that British fishing interests declare this section,
which is on the Atlantic side of the Republic of Ireland, is
their exclusive 'territory ', the more so when the EU
agreement excludes Spanish boats from the Irish Sea and
Bristol Channel which also bounds Ireland on one side! So
what about the poor Irish fishermen? Where do they have a
look in?"=20

The second 'complaint' about the Spaniards is that they
have a large number of trawlers registered in England. Again
the conditions imposed on such arrangements is that 75 %
of the crew must be English. It is true that the catch can be
'exported' to a Spanish port, and this is another source of
grievance for the anti-Spanish lobby (which is also the anti-
European lobby). These same people welcome foreign
investment in the car industry, for instance, and don't object
to the fact that the profits from this are exported!

Finally, the Spanish fishing industry has been subjected to
quotas and to decommissioning of a percentage of its
fishing fleet, just as all the other EU nations with a fishing

If one believes the British fishing spokespersons and the
interested media, there is a conspiracy in Brussels against
the British. That too is nonsense! The quotas for British
fishermen in 'key North Sea, western waters and English
Channel fishing grounds in 1996' compared with 1995 is
almost generous. A lot of fuss has been made in the media
about sole and plaice, the quotas for which have decreased
from a total of 31,500 to 23,000 tons. But cod, haddock and
hake quotas have increased. The herring and mackerel
quotas have decreased from 335,000 to 246,000 tons, but
all in all even the Brussels bureaucrats are allowing our
'desperate' fishermen to sweep up (they no longer fish the
sea) just under half a million tons of fish for free. For unlike
even the factory farmers, they simply 'harvest' the oceans
and by their greed are responsible for the depletion of fish
stocks, aided and encouraged by governments - after all, at
one time they were given subsidies to have larger boats and
introduce more sophisticated technologies to increase their
catches! Now the government has a =A353 million fund for
fishermen to decommission their boats (that is to take them
out of service)! And what has the government - which
observes the rules as none of those 'foreigners' do - done in
this connection? We quote Geoffrey Gibbs in the Guardian
(20th November):=20

"Recent European figures show there is still some way to
go. While the European Union as a whole had met its 1996
tonnage reduction targets as early as the end of last year,
Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK were lagging behind.

In Britain's case, according to the commission's figures up
to the end of 1994, a further 17% tonnage cut was required
in the two-year period to the end of 1996. The latest
decommissioning round achieved a reduction of only 2.5%"
(our italics).=20

The British, reluctantly, are decommissioning. According to
the Ministry, some 101 boats from English ports, 42 from
Scotland, thirteen from Northern Ireland and eight from
Wales, are on their way out.

But if we may be allowed to repeat ourselves (after all,
what is propaganda - even anarchist propaganda-if not
repetition until accepted) we wrote in the final paragraph of
the 'Stinking Fish Galore' editorial (Freedom, 25th March

"There is no way of reconciling capitalism with conservation.
Get rid of the profit motive, get rid of private ownership of
ocean-going trawlers, encourage the small in-shore

The in-shore fishermen are disappearing just as in
horticulture the small market gardener is losing out to the
supermarket-dominated suppliers.

According to statistics the in-shore fishermen are
responsible for only 3% of fish catches in this country, and
they are the people who need to be protected and
encouraged. They are not depleting the fish stocks and yet
they are being included in the fish quotas by the EU. Surely
even the bureaucrats in Brussels - who are obviously
concerned with the reports by scientists and others
concerned with fish stocks - should exempt from the quotas
the in-shore fishermen with open boats of ten or less
metres, and control all other boats both as to distance from
the shore and size of net and the nets themselves.

The East Anglian Daily Times - which is apparently so up
in arms on behalf of the fishermen that they produced a
feature, 'Laws are Crippling This Ancient Skill' (14th
December 1995) - didn't send their reporter in one of the in-
shore open boats but in a trawler, and pictured Skipper
Woods in the wheelhouse! How do they fish?=20

"By about 7.30am we had reached the area where Ralph
and the crew were hoping to haul in some herring. In my
naivety I assumed you'd drop some nets and pull in loads of
fish. Not so.

Everybody began carefully watching a piece of hi-tech kit
called a fish-finder which tells the crew where the large
shoals of fish are. After carefully scouring the area for about
an hour the coloured screen was illuminated with dozens of
little dots indicating a large number of fish.

Soon the task of putting out the huge drift nets was under
way. With Ralph at the helm, Darren and Nick fed fifteen 1
00ft by 20ft nets, which are joined together, out of the rear of
the boat. We travelled 500 metres before all the nets were
out and then, you've guessed it, started all over again
putting a second set out."=20

That having been done the 'skipper' and crew of two
(including a 16 year old-~-

"relaxed: we'd found what seemed to be a good _ fishing
area and all we had to do was wait for thousands of herring
to swim into the nets and be caught."=20

And in due course the nets were hauled in (with equipment,
of course) and sorted out, etc. One and a quarter tons of
herrings were the harvest, and considered by the skipper as
a modest return cashwise.=20

It is estimated that world-wide there are three million fishing
boats sweeping the oceans of the world not just for fish but
for profit - why would they otherwise in a capitalist world?=20

Anarchists, at least this writer for one, are not fish
'liberators'. What we are concerned with is- that the food in
the oceans is just as important to mankind as the soil on
which we grow the food that sustains the livelihoods of the
billions of humans (and our animals friends!) on this planet.

For this reason we are as opposed to the private ownership
of the oceans as we of the land. Both belong to the people
and should be protected and nurtured on our behalf. In this
context the fish are the victims of the money-greedy fishing
interests world-wide.=20


The London publisher and distributor, Knockabout Comics,
have applied for judicial review of a decision by HM
Customs and Excise to seize and destroy copies of one of
their publications, My Troubles with Women by Robert
Crumb. The first stage in the process will take place at
Uxbridge magistrates court on 29th and 30th January=20

Robert Crumb was important among the American
'underground comics' artists of the 1960s when he created,
among other characters, Fritz the Cat and Mr Natural. In the
1980s Knockabout imported Weirdo Comics and other
publications including Crumb's work. Aware that some of
Crumb's panels might be deemed 'indecent', they imported
single copies of each issue and obtained written assurances
from HM Customs that they were acceptable, before
importing the bulk of their stock.

Later, they compiled a book of Crumb's work from these
imports, which they published under their own imprint with
the title My Troubles with Women. This is a book published
in London, of which every single item had previously been
passed by Customs.

At the beginning of 1995 a film about the life and work of
Robert Crumb was released in British cinemas, broadcast
and sold as a video. Naturally Knockabout wanted to sell
their Crumb book at the time of this event. They had sold
out, but their American distributor, Rip Off Press of San
Francisco, still had stock so they asked Rip Off Press to
send them back.

They were seized by Customs at Heathrow Airport under
Section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act of 1876 (CCA),
which enables any Customs Officer to seize any publication
which he or she considers 'indecent or obscene' regardless
of whether it was earlier certified acceptable for import,
regardless of whether it was published in Britain or
elsewhere, and in practice (although they are notionally
required to consider it) regardless of whether it could be
seized under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 (OPA).

The CCA brought together various Orders in Council and
other bits of legislation designed to prevent the import of
plant pests and pathogens. It is the statute which prohibits
the import of, for instance, potato plants from countries
infested by the colorado beetle. In the censorious ambience
of 1876, Section 42 appears to have been added as an
afterthought, with no consideration of its consequences.

In 1993 Gosh Comics, a retailer, was raided by twelve
Customs Officers who stayed for eight hours searching the
stock for offences, using an alphabetic checklist which
began with 'erection' and ended with 'urination'. Among the
work seized and later burned was Peter Pank, an irreverent
re-telling of the Peter Pan story published in London. *

That case never came to court (the proprietor agreed that
the stock could be destroyed if the prosecution was
dropped). But had it done so HM Customs could have
argued that the Act says that if illegally imported matter is
stored together with home-grown produce the whole lot is
liable to confiscation. No exemption is made for matter
prohibited under Section 42.

We sympathise with those who say censorship is
censorship, and it does not matter whether stuff is censored
under the OPA, the Common Law which the OPA replaced,
or the CCA which the drafters of the OPA seem to have
overlooked. But we think there is an important distinction to
be made between laws whose effect is predictable and laws
which are purely arbitrary.

Nobody would attempt to confiscate My Troubles with
Women under the OPA. If the publisher took the case to
court, the authorities would have to convince a jury that the
book has 'a tendency to corrupt and deprave', which would
be impossible. A wealth of case law, beginning with Lady
Chatterley's Lover case, has established that artistic merit is
a defence under the Act and, whether you like Crumb's work
or not, there would be no problem establishing that it has
artistic merit. It is not pornography. Customs objects to only
three panels out of 760.

On the other hand, My Trouble with Women can be
confiscated under the CCA on the whim of a single prude,
subject only to the confirmation of a magistrate who in
practice must rely on the Customs Officer's evidence.

The My Trouble with Women case is the most high profile
of many cases brought against imported comics under
Section 42 of the CCA. A group of interested people is now
being assembled to oppose this vicious and ridiculous law.
Contact Comics Defence Committee, c/o Comics Creators
Guild, 7 Dilke Street, London SW3 4JE. Please send an
SAE and allow a month for reply.=20

* Peter Pank by Max, 64 pages A4, full colour adult comic,
=A34.95. If ordering by post from Freedom Press please add
p&p (50p UK, =A31 elsewhere).=20

Summary of * FREEDOM *
13 Jan 1996 (Vol 57 No 1):

British jobs' is used to justify arms firms lobbying for Saudi dissident
al Masari's deportation, and the government wasting 330m (40% more than
quoted) on Trident maintenance. Aiming for "full employment" is giving
into capitalism, which is responsible for producing artificial
scarcities and the means of megadeath.

* Emma Goldman in London, 13 Nov 1924 (after expulsion from USA, Russia,
Germany and Sweden) tested her "one illusion left - that England has
retained some of her traditional liberties, among them the .. sacred
right of political asylum for political refugees". M. Howard take note!

The media protested over the Spanish 'invasion' and
lower fishing quotas, but cod & haddock quotas are up! Despite a fund of
53m, the latest boat decommisioning reduced tonnage only by 2.5%. Greedy
owners of trawlers with their sonar & huge drift nets are responsible
for overfishing, not the small in-shore boats.

INTERNATIONAL * Detailed article on Mondragon Co-operative Federation
which has 25 000 worker members in the Basque region: how inalienable
equal shares and retention of part of member's income produce successful
worker control. * Manifesto of Institute of Social Studies: meeting in
Greece, early March. Contact ISS, 5 Sultani St, GR-10692, Greece *
Dutch embassy sit-in, after the military attack the embassy * CHILD
WARRIORS: UN says 5 million children disabled in regional conflicts, and
6-year-olds used to clear mines.* PAPUA NEW GUINEAU govt. bailed out by
World Bank in exchange for Structural Adjustment Programme, opening to
trade, *and* the use of community-owned land as collateral

BRITAIN * A strike to reinstate 4 union activists sacked in '92 closed
several stations in the Manchester area last week. * The seizure of
Robert Crumb's _My Troubles with Women_ under s42 of Customs
Consolidation Act 1876 [sic], despite having already been passed by
Customs, is being fought by Knockabout Comics. To help oppose this
vicious and ridiculous law, SAE to Comics Defence Committee, 7 Dilke St
London SW3 4JE. * How Mandelson's proposals show Labour has discarded
its pretence of socialism

+ Libertarian's "Anarchist Notes" + Obituaries of Derrick A. Pike & Axel
Hoch + Arthur Moyse on the "Nazi-style shit" artist Emile Nolde, and on
Joseph Garner eating his dad's brain: "is it art?" + Chris Platts on
Social Welfare (state v. self-help) + Harold Barclay on Pleistocene sex
differences + Silvia Edwards on humanism, hope and lottery jackpots +
Colin Ward reviews Anna Davin's _Growing Up Poor: Home, School and
Street in London 1870-1914_ (Rivers Oram Press, L19.95) and notes the
loss of a system of "automatic mutual aid" + Wildcat.

_Freedom_ is the anarchist fortnightly newspaper co-founded in 1886 by
Kropotkin. To receive 24 issues of Freedom, send (pounds) 14 (UK) / 24
(Europe) / 34 (airmail outside Europe) to Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel
High St, London E1 7QX.

Sample edition on request.

Visit the Freedom Press archive and booklist:


Articles marked @ are available there or from /TAO/A-Infos. Opinions aren't necessarily mine, but you can have them anyway.


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