What would Brexit mean for the UK's fishing industry? - The i newspaper online iNews
The FT is asking the same question today:
Will Britain’s fishermen be better off after Brexit?
It is hard to think of many sectors that will be more affected by UK leaving the EU
Britain’s fishing industry accounts for only a tiny part of the UK economy, contributing less than half a per cent to annual GDP. But it is hard to think of many sectors that will be more heavily affected by Brexit. For nearly 50 years, the Common Fisheries Policy has dictated where UK fishing boats can operate and how much they can catch. It has also given EU nations access to British territorial waters. Leaving the CFP will have a dramatic impact on coastal communities across the country.
Michael Gove, environment secretary, on Sunday took an important first step in exiting the CFP when he announced that the UK will leave the 1964 London Fisheries Convention. This allows vessels from six EU nations to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of the UK coastline. Mr Gove says Britain will now go further and “take back control” of its territorial waters up to the 200 nautical miles currently allowed by the CFP. As a result the UK will be able to “dramatically increase the amount of fish that we catch”.
But how promising is this new future for British fishing? Superficially, withdrawal from the CFP puts the UK in a strong position. As a recent House of Lords report argues, the UK will be able to set its own conservation rules and will have an independent voice in setting annual Total Allowable Catches alongside the EU and Norway. “Withdrawing from the CFP gives the UK the opportunity to develop a fisheries management regime that is tailored to the conditions of UK waters and its fleet,” the reports says.
However, Andy Lebrecht, a former director-general for food and farming at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has argued that the UK will still have to reach an agreement with the EU on quotas and access to each other’s waters after Brexit. In a recent piece for InFacts, he said there were four reasons why the UK does not hold all the cards.
First, while the Scottish fishing fleet depends relatively little on non-UK waters, the English fleet traditionally catches its fish in Irish, French and Norwegian, as well as UK, waters. “Retaining access to those waters will be an essential demand for the UK,” he says.
Second, each country’s quotas are based on historical catch records dating back to 1973. The EU can be expected to resist strongly any attempt to reset such a well-established basis for quota allocation.
Third, the UK fishing industry depends heavily on exports to the EU, so is vulnerable to tariffs. Britain exported £921m of fish (including £224m salmon) to the EU in 2015, whereas total landings (the amount brought to the UK) were worth £775m. “Countries such as France and Spain would have every incentive to demand high tariffs on fish imports from the UK,” says Mr Lebrecht.
Fourth, UK vessels benefit from rights to fish large quantities of cod in North Norwegian waters that are “paid for” by transfers to Norway of other stocks which are mainly of value to other EU countries. (This recent FT piece shows how critical the question of Norwegian cod is expected to be.) Maintaining this arrangement will be another British demand.
As in many other aspects of the EU negotiation, Britain could refuse to do a deal and go its own way. But the government would need to consider the consequences of such a move. The breakdown of any agreement would probably lead to overfishing and the depletion of stocks. It would result in the imposition of tariff barriers. Above all, the British would have to ask themselves whether they could effectively patrol and defend UK waters against fishing boats from EU states.
Given these constraints, Britain has little room for manoeuvre in negotiations over post-CFP arrangements. The UK fishing community may emerge from Brexit in a weaker position than it expects.Will Britain’s fishermen be better off after Brexit?
So, now it seems we have some answers:
UK to 'take back control' of waters after exiting fishing convention | Politics | The Guardian
Government to pull out of EU fishing deal and reclaim UK waters for British fishermen - Telegraph
The response in Devon is positive:
Devon fishermen welcome ban on foreign fishing vessels
Devon fishermen welcome ban on foreign fishing vessels | Devon Live