Saturday, 2 July 2016

Post-Brexit responses from POs in England, Denmark, Holland and France.

The first response from Jim Portus - CEO South West Fish Producer Organisation, UK:

The evident discontent with the democratic process of the EU Referendum would suggest that we, as a nation, are in for a rough ride over the years of negotiating the divorce settlement. It is at such times in a relationship between partners breaking up because of their incompatibility, that one might wish for "Relate" to assist. That's probably what Dave and Angela needed in February! However, we are where we are and the people chose divorce last Thursday, not reconciliation.
In the sector I strive to represent, albeit at a local level, the fishing industry was an early opponent of the Uk's relationship with the Common Market, now EU. If fishermen had had their way in 1971, we would never have got "married".

The Common Fisheries Policy that we all think about and hear of is actually only temporary and renewable ten-yearly. It is used as a clumsy tool to regulate access and quotas, markets and structural policies, grants and 3rd country agreements. These myriad regulations all fall by the wayside at Brexit in 2 years. So too does the Treaty obligation of the real Common Fisheries Policy, that of equal access to a common resource without discrimination. That would be the equivalent of a decree absolute. But, as with all divorces, there is now time for lawyers to get involved and make a settlement. This can be amicably, with both parties seeking honour to be satisfied, or it can be with bitterness and acrimony. I have the impression that negotiators will say "for the sake of the children" we should seek an amicable split. That's what worries me!
My fear from that approach is that our living marine resources might still be carved up as shared assets to be distributed. For the fishing industry this would be a similar sell-out as in 1971. So, is there a third way to settle the question of fisheries asset management for the good of all?
To my mind, the only acceptable divorce settlement is to invoke the UNCLOS Treaty, like a pre-nuptial agreement. This would allow full sovereignty within the 12 miles limit for UK vessels only. We would have sovereign rights within the 200 miles / median line limits, with access granted to share the surplus of the resources that could not be taken by UK fleets up to the sustainable limits. Articles 61 and 62 of UNCLOS deal with the details.
I look forward to our Fisheries Minister, George Eustice starting from that solid and internationally agreed basis for this newly designated independent sovereign coastal state, the United Kingdom.

Second, a perspective (and judgment on some UK chefs) from Johan Nooitgedagt of Dutch PO De Nederlandse Vissersbond. 

"The results of the UK referendum should be sending a very clear signal to Brussels that fishermen find EU fisheries policy too bureaucratic, especially in regard to the Natura 2000 regulations, according to Johan Nooitgedagt of Dutch PO De Nederlandse Vissersbond.

‘Rules are needed for fishing, but the discard ban took things too far, along with the loss of good fishing grounds,’ he said, but added that the discard ban had its origins in the UK, with TV chefs leading the way for it. The UK referendum coincides almost precisely with the establishment in the Netherlands of the EMK group (Eendracht Maakt Kracht = Unity Makes Strength), a spontaneous movement focused on the problems of the discard ban and the loss of fishing grounds to MPAs and yet more windfarm areas that reduce available fishing grounds.
The lesson that the Netherlands needs to learn from the British referendum is that the voice of fishermen needs to be taken seriously. The links between policy and fishermen have been cut, and the British have demonstrated this. A great majority of British fishermen made their voices heard, although they may have yet to experience the consequences of this,’ he said. ‘The hangover from all this is huge. Where do we go from here? Fishermen should not be made to suffer by Brussels, and instead Brussels should be helping its fishing industry. Policy has to have some logic behind it,’ he said.
Johan Nooitgedagt said that now that UK fishermen have clearly voted to leave EU membership, Dutch fishermen feel that this is an example worth following and there is a very clear dissatisfaction among them. ‘Fishermen finally have good quotas, but have lost much of their fishing grounds, which is unacceptable. Now fishermen want to visible action and De Nederlandse Vissersbond will support them with every legal way we can.
I have been in touch with the movement’s leaders and have urged them that a realistic and achievable plan with structure and vision is crucial,’ he said. ‘Fishermen have already been pushed as far as they can be, and are demanding a secure future and no additional threats to their livelihoods. Campaigning does not present problems, but action that is sympathetic to the public requires careful management. We wish EMK every success and will provide support in any way we can,’ Johan Nooitgedagt said.

The third, from Denmark:
"The Danish Fishermen’s PO has stated that it is up to Britain how it handles its EU membership situation, but it is up to the Danish government to ensure that the interests of Danish fishermen are safeguarded in negotiating an agreement with the UK to ensure continued sustainable management of fisheries.
Danish fishing is in many ways closely linked to UK fishing, and therefore the future of Danish fishing very much depends on a future British agreement. That is why I’m making a clear call to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen for fishing to take a central position in the Danish Government's priorities for the forthcoming negotiations in the EU,’ said Danish Fishermen's Association chairman Svend-Erik Andersen.
The Danish fishing industry’s representatives have already made direct contact with both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Environment and Food with an unequivocal call to ensure Danish fisheries for the future. He stressed the fact that any agreement with the UK needs to be not only be about fishing access, but also trade agreements, with continued access for British fish to the single market of the EU, being subject to the EU's continued access to British waters.
The demand is that if the UK wishes to sell its fish in the single market, then it must also allow access to its waters, he said, comparing the EU deals with Norway as a blueprint for a potential UK agreement. ‘We have for many years had negotiated fishing rights in Norwegian territory, even though they are not members of the EU.
This has to also be possible when negotiating independently with the UK,’ Svend-Erik Andersen said. He also made the point that the basis for the EU fishing industry - the Common Fisheries Policy - remains unchanged by the UK referendum last week. For the moment, nothing changes and the situation of common stocks and shared waters remains in place.
There is absolutely no need to create any uncertainty about the terms of the Common Fisheries Policy. They are the same,’ said Svend-Erik Andersen. ‘Things are the same as they were before the referendum. That said, it is now essential that the EU and the Danish Government negotiate a good, long-term agreement with the British. It is imperative to ensure continued sustainable management of fisheries."

From France, CNPMEM president Gerard Rominiti says:

The vote by the UK to leave the European Union has raised concerns in France, and fishermen’s federation CNPMEM has watched the situation on the other side of the Channel carefully.
Speaking at its meeting last week, CNPMEM president Gérard Romiti told Secretary of State for Transport, the Sea and Fisheries Alain Vidalies that the choice the UK has made could have serious consequences, commenting that it has to be remembered that the crisis the French fishing sector suffered in the 1990s began with a devaluation of the pound.
According to a CNPMEM statement, in spite of Alain Vidalies’ assurances, French fishermen are concerned that the UK could adopt a less amicable stance, and Gérard Romiti has called on the French authorities to make early contact with their British counterparts to ensure that French landings in UK ports and French access to shared fishing grounds remain unaffected.
The regions of Normandy and Brittany depend on access to UK waters for around 50% of their fishing activities, and there is concern that a renationalisation of waters could take place, without consultation with other states. The meeting agreed with the Secretary of State that access to the European market is linked to quota distribution, and French fishermen’s leaders expressed a strong interest in being involved with future developments leading to a UK withdrawal form the EU. Source: CNPMEM

You can read all about the CNPMEM - a shoreside organisation that represents all fishermen at a local, regional and national level - their website is also available in English