UK fishing industry dismisses MEP Brexit access proposal


Fresh calls from members of the EU Fisheries Committee arguing that any Brexit trade deal between the EU and the United Kingdom must guarantee EU access to British fishing waters have been slammed by sections of the U.K. fishing industry.

A group of MEPs have insisted that if the United Kingdom wants free access to the EU for its seafood products following its departure from the union it must surrender some of its fishing grounds to European vessels, with the Fisheries Committee saying that it would be unacceptable to give U.K. seafood companies free access to EU markets if European trawlers no longer had access to British fishing grounds.

At present, these demands have no official backing from European Parliament.

Responding to the development, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said: “The fish in our waters are our natural resource, and the industry, Scottish Government and U.K. Government will not allow them to be bargained away.

“This is like asking the vineyards of France, Spain and Italy to give away 60 percent of their grape harvest, free, to anyone who wants to come and take it away to make wine,” he said.

“As a coastal state, we intend to restore control of our natural seafood resource and under international law foreign-flagged vessels will be prohibited from fishing in our waters without our approval.

“Negotiations on access that would prove beneficial to this country can take place after Brexit, when the new management regime is in place.

“The potential benefit for jobs, communities and suitable food production far outweighs the challenges,” said Armstrong.

Scottish MEP and Fisheries Spokesman in the European Parliament, Ian Duncan, said the Fisheries Committee’s demand that single market access for U.K. fish products should be dependent on free access to U.K. territorial waters for EU boats was “a nonsense.” He also described the approach of the Fisheries Committee to Brexit as “fundamentally flawed.”

No trade deal brokered by the EU has included access to the fishing grounds of the other nation as a requirement, he said.

In a letter written to Alain Cadec, chair of the Fisheries Committee, Duncan said: “With certain EU fishing vessels catching upwards of 60 percent of their catch in U.K. waters, it is clear that there will be a significant adjustment in EU fishing operations. However, as with Norway and Iceland, access to U.K. waters can be facilitated through negotiations similar to those currently conducted between the EU and the northern nations.

“To begin the negotiations in such an unbalanced manner, puts at risk the very issue we both care deeply about,” he wrote.

Duncan also highlighted that the European Parliament will not negotiate Brexit and that this kind of intervention was “unhelpful.”

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I really have heard everything now! Our fishing industry has been decimated by the EU, so we are leaving the EU, at long long last but we still must allow EU fishing fleets to continue with this decimation? Yeah right!!

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