UK fishing federations adopt united stance on Brexit

Published on
November 29, 2016

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) have come to an agreement upon common principles for which they will jointly negotiate in upcoming talks on the terms of the United Kingdom’s separation from the European Union, also known as Brexit.

Following a meeting on 25 November in Edinburgh, Scotland, the two groups agreed on key outcomes they would like to achieve “to ensure the best possible deal for coastal communities in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations,” according to a press release.

“We see the UK’s departure from the E.U. and therefore the [Common Fisheries Policy] as an opportunity to address the distortions that were built into the CFP from its inception,” said Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, which represents a broad section of fishermen across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. “The U.K. industry is united that this is a once in a generation opportunity to put things right.”

Both organizations regard Brexit as an “historic opportunity,” as the U.K. regains full control of its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
At the meeting between the two federations, the two organizations agreed to fight against any roll-over of the current Common Fisheries Policy and against negotiations that entangle fisheries issues other matters not related to fishing.

Specifically, they also agreed to seek the following outcomes:

  • Fairer shares of catching opportunity for U.K. vessels.
  • Full control over access to the U.K. EEZ by fishing fleets.
  • Creation of a fit-for-purpose management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on sustainable harvesting and sound science.
  • Establishment of mutually beneficial trading relationships with the E.U. and other countries.

The federations also agreed to fight for equal benefit to all sectors of the fishing industry, including inshore and offshore fleets and both fish and shellfish fisheries.

“The federations believe this is an opportunity to go beyond the limited achievements of the CFP. An ambitious management strategy for U.K. waters that will provide environmentally sustainable, high-yield and profitable fisheries for the future must be created,” the organizations said in their press release. “In particular, there is a need to devise and implement a workable discards policy.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said Brexit has “monumental significance” for the nation’s fishing industry, with the chance of providing significant increase in local economic activity.

"It is vital that fishermen across the UK speak with a united voice to ensure that the U.K .and devolved governments fight for the interests of these communities in the forthcoming negotiations,” Armstrong said.

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