Before the UK joined the EEC, Scottish commercial sea fishing was regulated by the Scottish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and it was policed by the Scottish fisheries protection fleet.

The Common Fisheries Policy, adopted in 1983 and reformed in 2003, now costs 0.75% of the EC budget: the Common Agricultural Policy costs 48%. Non-compliance with EC regulations is an inadequately controlled problem: illegal fishing accounts for one-third to one-half of all catches in some EU fisheries. 30% of the stocks for which information exists are outside safe biological levels and 80% are fished above maximum sustainable yield.

From the start of control from Brussels, an economic and social disaster has blighted coastal towns in Scotland. The results for Scotland of EU membership have included tens of thousands of job losses in the marine and downstream sectors of the industry, and an annual loss of wealth creation of the order of 1,500 million every year now heading for 2,000. The Scottish offshore fleet has been reduced by two thirds. In the pelagic sector, in which earlier 1,000 herring boats employed 10,000 seamen, the fleet consists of two dozen large midwater boats crewed by 280 men. The larger demersal white fish fleet has been harder hit. The social cost of the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and the destruction of centuries-old fishing communities is incalculable.

Scotland's 2009 net annual contribution to the European Union was 532 million net after all return EU grants had been subtracted: the estimated figure for 2010 is 845 million, the increase being due to Scotland's proportion of the UKs contribution to bailing out European banks. A provisional estimate for 2011 looks even higher.

Scotland should transfer from the EU side of the European Economic Area to its EFTA side, which is not subject to the EU fisheries and agricultural policies. Day by day, the prospect of an independent Scotland within EFTA looks more appealing.

(Michael Hamilton is a non-political campaigner for Home Rule for Scotland)