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Fishing – Brexit boom or betrayal?

30 October 2018

The message is clear - "Our country, our quota". Hastings 8 April 2018. Photo Workers.

The government’s Fisheries Bill aims to set out how Britain will operate after leaving the EU. Fishing for Leave have published a detailed plan to make the most of this opportunity.

Fishing for Leave warn that Transition and Chequers will, if implemented, maintain EU control over our fishing, in effect taking us back into the Common Fisheries Policy – Brexit in Name Only. Redressing the damage caused by the CFP means ending the uncontrolled exploitation of British waters by EU vessels.

Sovereignty and control of our waters are essential to realise the British fishing industry’s potential to support coastal communities in future. That can go along with creating an environmentally sustainable and economically viable industry.

In July the UK government issued a consultation White Paper titled Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations. Defra published the responses along with the Fisheries Bill on 25 October. Fishing for Leave welcome much of the government’s aims but they are concerned about the lack of detail on how to achieve them, and the retention of polices that have failed over 40 years of the CFP.


In particular Fishing for Leave say that it’s dangerous for the government to say that that Britain should “move towards” fairer shares of fisheries stock. It’s the CFP policy of equal shares for all members, loaded against British the fishing industry, that is the underlying problem. They ask why, if these are our resources on leaving the EU, we should then give them up again.

FFL calls on the government to listen for once to those with knowledge and experience. The test of government action will be the extent to which it discards policies acknowledged as unsatisfactory or in need of improvement.

'The government must legislate for restoration of exclusive sovereignty over all UK waters.’

Their clear, straightforward proposals are that the Fisheries Bill must legislate for: a total and complete abrogation of the Common Fisheries Policy; restoration of exclusive sovereignty over all waters and resources within the UK Exclusive Economic Zone out to 200 nautical miles or the median line; following international law in full that confers complete discretion to fulfil sustainable and appropriate management based on the best available science; policy and management to be exercised in Britain’s interest as an independent nation state and in accord with international law.

To make this a reality the government needs to immediately work on creating new, bespoke British policy and to provide that no government can return to the CFP, or anything similar in future.


FFL argue that objectively Britain has a strong negotiating position in view of the predominance of resources in our waters and the necessity of other nations to access these resources. Due to the past losses to the British fleet, it has adequate resource in its own waters along and the ability to harvest them sufficiently if it were given sufficient regulatory ability to do so.

Therefore access should only be granted for any nation to harvest surplus resources the UK cannot utilise. Outside the CFP this puts the UK in a strong position. ON the other hand under the transition proposals and under EU control means they could cull our fleet further and claim our “surplus” resources.

Access to British waters should only be granted where there is an equal exchange and mutually beneficial swap through a barter of resources and access to another nation’s waters. Equal exchange should not be manipulated to continue CFP-style “equal access” by another name.

Download the Fishing for Leave response in full from their website