Responding to local fishermen’s plans to protest against plans to keep Britain in the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy until at least 2020 local MP Amber Rudd says they must keep their eyes on the ‘bigger prize’.
Ms Rudd said this week: “I know many fishermen in our towns have found this announcement disappointing, but we must look at the bigger picture and see that the prize is still out there.
“I fully understand the concerns our fishing community has about the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its impact and I am clear that we must make the most of the opportunity leaving the EU offers us to take back control of our waters and to ensure a fair share of quota for UK fishermen.
“The implementation period will allow us to make a proper transition to a future outside the Common Fisheries Policy. This will give us time to prepare ourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities for our coastal communities to revive economically, and for our marine environment to be managed sustainably. That is a significant prize, and I believe we must keep our eyes on it.”
Meanwhile Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney says he ‘fully understands’ the concern s of local fishermen: “The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been something of an embarrassment for those of us who have advocated staying in the EU.
“Our local fishery welcomed the Brexit vote and the government’s commitment to restoring territorial waters to UK fishing boats, while recognising that quotas would still be needed. But now the government has agreed that the CFP will continue to apply through the Brexit transition period, during which the UK will have no say over the way the CFP is applied. That’s particularly worrying for our local fishery, as during that period the EU is planning to introduce a ‘landing obligation’.
“On the face of it, that sounds like a good idea. It’s intended to end discards, so all fish caught will have to be landed. But what it means in practice is that when any species quota is reached, the fishery will have to shut down for the rest of the quota period, because they won’t be able to guarantee that they won’t catch any more of that species and go over quota. This is further complicated by the way it applies across the whole quota area – it could mean that even though Hastings fishers stay within quota, going over quota in Eastbourne would mean our fishery had to close.
“With the UK not party to negotiations around this in the run-up to it being introduced, this could be catastrophic for our local fishery. But now, all fisheries are worried about what the government’s commitment really is to restoring UK territorial rights to UK fisheries post Brexit, and whether they’ll simply negotiate that away in the overall Brexit trade negotiations.”
And a recent issue of the industry magazine Fishing News said: “The government’s reputation now, in the eyes of the fishing industry, is in tatters and it has lost the trust of the industry.”
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