With the fisheries draft agreement now released, Fishing for Leave has given their assessment to the draft fisheries agreement set out by the government yesterday. Fishing for Leave firstly praises the government and the negotiation team for the work so far. Here’s what FFL said: “On a positive note, the broad context outlined here looks good – congratulations to the government and their Brexit team.”
Fishing for Leave then went on to state the positive of this draft agreement saying: “It sets the basis of being fully independent fisheries nations like Norway or Iceland while co-operating as two independent nations as obliged by UNCLOS.”
“It states that the UK will maintain its regulatory sovereignty, avoiding fealty to the CFP, to maintain freedom over domestic management.”
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“It states that foreign vessels must obey UK law if/when allowed in UK waters – this must be enforced and it must be legislated in the fisheries bill that any foreign vessels granted access to land in British ports. This is vital to ensure compliance with catch limits and also to see British ports and processors benefit from fish from British waters.”
“It states annual agreements which swerves an industry fear of being locked into a poor deal for years to appease the EU – it must be legislated in the fisheries bill that there is no backslide from this where the UK starts tough, and in future years there is increasing giveaways.”
“The commitment to fair shares of Total Allowable Catches is also hugely welcome.”
After expressing the positives of the draft agreement, Fishing for Leave then exposed the pitfalls saying “It is the detail of who, when, where and how much that will be key”.
Fishing for Leave continues: “It must be legislated in this deal and in the fisheries bill that any swap of access to one another’s waters will only be granted when the UK receives a reciprocal value of fishing opportunities. No 2:1 or fish for deals on cars.”
“It must be legislated in this agreement and the fisheries bill that any deal and reciprocal annual access are predicated on the EU recognising Britains rightful 60% Zonal Attachment share of TACs.”
There was however one massive “unknown” in the draft agreement, That was to do with foreign vessels catching in our waters then buzzing off back home instead of landing their catch in the UK to check quotas etc.
Fishing for Leave said: “The last big unknown is regarding Freedom of Establishment which allows big EU companies to establish fishing companies in Britain and run EU owned, but UK registered Flagships.”
“These big Flagship companies now hold approx half of UK fishing entitlement, yet their vessels are EU crewed and land or consign their catches direct to EU markets and processors with no benefit to Britain.”
“The terms of the political declaration and the UK’s negotiating position published in February both sought to maintain the ability of business to establish in one another’s territory. This is fine for most industries but not for fishing where mobile fishing vessel Flagships can just steam home.”
“It must be legislated in this agreement, and the fisheries bill that Freedom of establishment will not include fishing and that a strong Economic Link is enforced to ensure any UK fishing vessel must be 60% British owned, 60% British crewed and land, sell AND process 60% of its catches within the UK.”
“This is to ensure UK vessels deliver genuine benefit to and help rebuild British communities.”
“This will finally see the terms of Mrs Thatchers 1988 Merchant Shipping Act and its Economic Link provisions, which were humiliatingly crushed by the ECJ in the infamous Factortame case, restored.”
“If this does not happen then there will be little to stop EU vessels excluded from British waters re-registering as Flagships here, allowing them to continue accessing British waters while steaming off back home to the EU or sending catches overland by truck.”
Fishing for Leave stated that they were welcoming of foreign investment to rebuild, but the benefits have to benefit Britain as its the host country, otherwise, it will not work and do more harm than good. FFL finished their assessment by saying that overall the draft agreement is top marks for the broad position, but the proof is in the taste of the pudding. Things may change if positions start to collapse on the British side to please the EU.
FFL continue saying: “Britain holds the whip hand, EU consumers need/are dependent on fish caught in British waters. We must not back down from being achingly close to righting the wrong inflicted upon fishing by Ted Heath and regaining our greatest natural resource to exorcise an injustice and rejuvenate British coastal communities with a £6-8bn industry.”