THE UK government is being urged to keep fishing out of any future Brexit transition deal. As the Cabinet continues to debate the UK’s detailed positions on Brexit, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has spelt out ten reasons why the industry should not be artificially tied to the EU after March next year.
It says: ‘Logically, fisheries jurisdiction, access rights and quota shares should be dealt separately with trade arrangements when the UK’s legal status on fisheries changes on March 29, 2019.
‘Norway, for example, maintains access to the EU single market under specific agreed arrangements but it also manages the fisheries within its own EEZ and enters into annual agreements on the management shared stocks and quota exchanges as an independent coastal state.’
The NFFO was quite blunt with its message: ‘If the UK accepts that fishing should be part of a 21-month transitional period on the terms specified by the EU (status quo on access and quota shares), it will be because it has again, as in 1973, decided that fishing is expendable and that other, trade issues take priority, despite its new legal status as an independent coastal state.’
And it adds this warning: ‘Once the principle that the status quo on quota shares and access has been conceded for a transitional deal, it is patently obvious that the EU will use the same tactics and leverage when the UK seeks to negotiate a long-term trade deal with the EU.
‘Fishing will again be a sacrificed pawn, irrespective of its legal status as an independent coastal state.
‘Fisheries jurisdiction and fisheries negotiations were artificially and cynically bound into the CFP in 1973 to the UK’s systematic and lasting disadvantage.
‘Not unnaturally, the EU 27 would like to continue that exploitative relationship because it works heavily to their advantage.
‘There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a different and better path and there is a heavy responsibility on out government not to drop the ball at this crucial point in history.’