Despite claims from UK environment secretary Michael Gove last year that the UK would “take back control” of its fishing policies post-Brexit, the EU has now announced that Britain will most likely be required to remain part of the EU common fisheries policy throughout the transition period. The current policies give other member states the right to fish between 12 and 200 miles off the UK’s coastline.
Under the current setup, all member states are required to negotiate the total amount of fish taken from certain areas between themselves. However, the overall allocation within the total allowed doesn’t change. The EU has said that it would be looking to make a bilateral deal before the UK leaves the union, which would specify the total amount of fish that could be taken from British waters.
Michael Gove has supposedly urged that the cabinet should renegotiate its quotas with Norway on all types of fish, including prawns, crabs and lobsters. One EU diplomat responded “We notice Gove hasn’t repeated that recently. Perhaps he has been reined in, because it isn’t going to happen.” Chairman of the European Fisheries Alliance, Gerard van Balsfoort, agreed that it seemed unlikely that the other EU member states would change their position in the coming months.
EU diplomats have also agreed that although the UK would still be required to abide by the CFP regulations throughout the transition period, they would have no say in setting the quotas or deciding how many fish can be caught in EU seas. Chief executive of the Scottish Fishing Federation, Bertie Armstrong, said that this is “absolutely unacceptable”. .
“The world will change on 29 March. We will be out of CFP, the UK becomes a coastal state and will have complete sovereignty over who has access to our waters,” he said. “Assumption of control does not mean complete rejection of negotiation, and a nine-month bridge covering the remainder of 2018 would be in order. A two-year transition period where nothing changes is neither required nor acceptable.”
Fishing policies was one of the most brought up issues during the Brexit campaign, and after the vote Michael Gove announced that the UK would leave the fisheries convention, which allows Britain, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Germany and France to catch fish within a 12 nautical mile radius of each other’s shorelines. It’s currently estimated that 33% of all fish caught in Europe are in the UK’s economic zone.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We remain committed to leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and developing arrangements for fishing that can create a more profitable and self-sufficient seafood sector.
“As we leave the EU, we are working to secure the best deal for the whole of the UK fishing industry.”
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