Scottish fishers call for Brexit clarity from Prime Minister Theresa May

Published on
November 19, 2018
Scots vessels

Fishing industry leaders in Scotland are seeking clarity from United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May on the new fisheries agreement within the proposed Brexit settlement, with fears about a linkage between access for European Union vessels to U.K. waters and tariff-free access for U.K. seafood suppliers to the E.U. market.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said such an arrangement would be unacceptable.

“The industry’s priority has always been taking back control of decision making over who catches what, where and when in our waters, so that we can end once and for all the grossly unfair situation where 60 percent of our stocks are taken, gratis, by boats from other EU nations," Armstrong said. “That would mean the U.K. becoming a fully independent coastal state with its own seat at all the relevant international fisheries negotiations from December 2020 on and regaining its proud status as one of the world’s major fishing nations. Negotiations over trade terms for seafood products would follow on from this. Any linkage between access and trade contravenes all international norms and practice and is simply unacceptable in principle." 

A 585-page draft withdrawal agreement was published by the prime minister last week, setting out how the United Kingdom will leave the E.U. on 29 March, 2019.

The agreement says that a separate agreement will need to be reached on access to E.U. fishing in U.K. waters. It also states, “The Union and the United Kingdom shall use their best endeavors to conclude and ratify 'an agreement' on access to waters and fishing opportunities."

There has, however, been widespread criticism of May’s draft. Two of her cabinet ministers resigned over the proposed deal, while others are believed to be trying to change its wording.

The agreement and a declaration on future U.K.-E.U. relations are due to be finalized at an E.U. summit on Sunday, 25 November.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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