Thursday, 30 June 2016

Scotland's fishing industry welcomes decision to leave the EU.

Despite the promises made by those advocating the Brexit, British fishermen have been warned their catch quotas will not be greater and economic issues may increase after the UK leaves the European Union.

These warnings were made by fisheries chiefs and campaigners, who also claimed that the new arrangements negotiated after the Brexit “will not be more generous,” The Guardian reported.

“Promises have been made and expectations raised during the referendum campaign and it is now time to examine if and how they can be delivered,” said the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

“We can certainly seek to renegotiate quota shares, as well as access arrangements, but it is realistic to expect that there will be a price. Who will pay that price is a critical question,” the entity stated.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the European commission told the Guardian: “It is far too early to speculate on this question [of what will happen to fisheries]. That will be addressed in due course, once negotiations with the UK begin on its withdrawal agreement as well as on the agreement concerning its future relationship with the EU. For the time being, nothing changes.”

There are only about 11,000 people directly employed in fishing in the UK, and nearly half of them in Scotland.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong, pointed out the referendum result offered both opportunities and challenges and that it was vital to have clarity from the UK and Scottish governments on their future intentions for fishing.

“After many years we at last have the ability to recover proper, sustainable and rational stewardship through our own Exclusive Economic Zone for fisheries, just like Norway, Iceland and the Faroes,” Armstrong stressed.

The fishery leader is convinced that for Scotland’s economically important fishing industry the new opportunities presented by the referendum result are overwhelmingly for the better and that with leadership exercised at last from the right place, the ills of the past of overfishing and incoherent regulation could be banished.

“We are witnessing another form of ‘Project Fear’ when instead we should be working on the details of how we, at long last, make the best out of the new leadership opportunities presented,” Armstrong claimed.

For his part, economist Griffin Carpenter warned there will be years of renegotiations, and given the small size of fishing compared to other industries, there is little chance it will be seen as a priority,

Other green campaigners called for ministers to draw up a plan for sustainable fishing following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Trevor Hutchings of WWF-UK said: “The government must deliver a coherent plan for maintaining and conserving the marine environment as a whole. This must recognise that fish stocks do not respect national boundaries. Effective management will rely on international cooperation.”

Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, pointed out that the Westminster government, rather than Brussels, was in charge of allocating the EU-agreed fishing quota, and had chosen for years to give most of it to a handful of large corporations rather than to the smaller fishermen who have most to lose.

He said: “Leaving the EU has often been held up as a magic pill for the UK’s fishing industry. But now we’ve voted to leave, it is far from plain sailing. One thing is clear: the UK government cannot settle back into its old habit of privileging a handful of large companies to the detriment of the UK’s small-scale fishermen. It wasn’t the EU that gave almost two-thirds of the entire fishing quota of England and Wales to just three companies - it was the British government.”

Full story courtesy of the Guardian.