Throughout the EU referendum campaign there was fear being projected from both sides as if there is a lot at stake to protect ourselves from that made us feel like we were being torn between running ourselves as an independent nation or part of a bloc of Europe. One man who I spoke to during the campaign was split on the matter due to the amount of scaremongering coming from both sides. I can understand that there are concerns from both sides.
Stronger In warned that the economy would be in jeopardy and Leave was mostly vocal about the effect of immigration. At first when I started blogging about my support of the campaign for Leave I had a number of reasons for wanting to leave. But along the way I started to think differently about how could I show people a better way by voting Leave. The thought occurred to me to promote ‘project hope’ as a way to undermine the Remainer’s statements about protecting the economy by voting remain. To get around this I decided to focus on something that I knew better and that was opportunities and potential investment to get beyond the confines of the EU and show people how to enjoy greater forms of freedom.
What freedoms could benefit Britain you might ask? Well as it happens I’m a science geek and I have found plenty of potential places that Britain’s best scientific geniuses in every field can explore. As an ambassador for the Science Museum it is my imperative view that British science seeks to make the use of its resources to seek out applications for it research and technology. Let’s start with something that the botanists and agricultural engineers can achieve.
One of the biggest trading opportunities that I want to see is with our Commonwealth member states in Africa and Asia which have got communities that live in largely arid barren societies with virtually no access to water and wild weathers that can damage unsustainable crops. When we were in the EU these nations were restricted by tariffs and barriers to trade with Europe to protect farming industries in the EEA. Now Britain can utilise it’s skill set with new funding to build better relations with these countries to make them thrive. One of them was inspired by me watching and studying the technology behind cultivation of crops in arid landscapes on Mars. The technology that the space community is developing for the manned exploration of Mars includes studying how crops can be grown on a planet where nothing grows. This bears a similarity to the technology to develop and grow food in the barren arid lands of the Western Sahara and East Africa. There is technology that UK-based services and manufacturers in agriculture can use to bring new farming technologies to these Commonwealth countries in places like Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Let’s consider Sierra Leone, a country that has fish stocks that is suffering from illegal fishing causing it’s fish stocks to be depleted. After the civil war of 1991- 2002 Sierra Leone’s local communities have been relying on fishing as their only source of income. Most of their local economies were destroyed in the war and that meant that they had to rely on the sea to provide a sustainable income for their survival. But over the years illegal fishing has been taking place in the waters offshore that have caused their stocks to become extinguished, most of which is caused by illegal fishing from foreign vessels that come from Asia and parts of Europe.
At one time the scale of the overfishing was so bad that during the civil war when the government was engaged in conflict with the rebels. The war caused such a distraction for the government that it did little to police it’s economy and all other areas of its social infrastructure that they didn’t monitor and control the coast effectively. Even after the war the monitoring capacity of coastal waters is weak. The World Bank knows that the government doesn’t have enough boats and hasn’t got its own access to satellite monitoring usage to protect the catch areas within 35 miles of the Sierra Leone coastline. That monitoring is shared with the UN and other African countries. This where the opportunities for trade, commerce and making technological advances comes in.
Here in the West fish stocks are able to be replenished by fish farming where the fish is grown and cultivated in coastal and land based aquaculture. If we bring this technology from Britain to Sierra Leone and show the local fishing communities how to use it instead of throwing aid money at them then they will be able to regrow their own fish stocks. There is already some aquaculture in Sierra Leone taking place producing 40 tonnes of fish. With aquaculture the fish stocks can increase even further. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate with a rainfall that can supply an unlimited amount of freshwater. Most of the country’s catch is freshwater fish and that freshwater rain supply can be useful to supplying a constant source of freshwater supply by a collection system. This will be useful to keep the water in the storage tanks for the fish fresh all year round. All the government has to do is subsidise it’s development and until the farmers make a profit they can run it themselves.
This is a good opportunity for British aquaculture industries to expand their business across West Africa where the EU barred such action for us to advance the African communities on our own. Another opportunity would be in the use of making a trade deal with the Sierra Leone government to help them police the waters for illegal fishermen by awarding contracts to British boatbuilders to supply them with the boats that can keep out the illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Also there are opportunities to supply the coastguard with radar equipment for detection as well. Even the fishers in Sierra Leone can benefit from them, the country’s fishing industry is largely small-scale artisanal, meaning that they are small business people operating with only one or two small boats. 50% of the fish consumed by humans comes from artisanal fishing and 90% of fishing jobs in the world are small scale. The British fishermen who have suffered as a result of the Common Fisheries Policy will be able to show these people how to fish in sustainable way as well.
The Overseas Development Institute has made a study into how sustainable fishing can benefit the West Africa coast as a whole. It can create over 300,000 jobs and bring in USD$3.3 billion in revenue for the economies of these nations combined.
This just goes to show one brilliant example of how international trade and development works better than foreign aid. I think it is worth looking into for the benefit of strengthening ties with the Commonwealth and the developing world. I hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the international trade ministers consider this as an example. Britain played a part in ending the civil war and as a Commonwealth nation we should be able to create a country get stronger and richer and in effect we will make a larger number of potential customers and business partners. Proof that capitalism is human, creative and a great source of advancement.