During People’s PMQs last night Boris Johnson once again said Britain’s fishing WON’T be traded away – something he previously told Parliament would be “a REPREHENSIBLE thing to do” on 25th July.
Fishing for Leave signalled their delight at the reiteration saying “It is great to hear Boris say fishing won’t be sacrificed as it was in the 1970s”.
“However, over the past three years Mrs May shattered any trust in political promises – we are a long way off delivery. Saying is one thing, doing quite another.”
“Regrettably the minor modifications Boris achieved to Mrs Mays dire Withdrawal Agreement didn’t exclude fishing.”
“Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement Britain is legally obliged to ratify the Political Declaration as the basis of any future deal – this deliberately sets fishing up to be traded as part of the ‘wider economic partnership’.
The Political Declaration forces us towards negating taking back control by continuing the current exploitationary EU access and quota shares in some sort of ‘non-discriminatory, level playing field’ CFP ‘associate’ membership the EU’s made it crystal clear this is what they are after”
Yet Fishing for Leave believe that although fishing is “hanging by a thread it is not over yet”.
They highlighted that to fulfil manifesto promises and deliver on fishing as one of the “acid tests of Brexit” the government MUST NOT cave to baseless EU ransom demands of continued exploitationary CFP access and quota shares for any trade deal and MUST achieve and be held to these main points;
• We take back FULL control of all waters and resources within our EEZ as we revert to international law upon terminating the CFP – we cannot negate this by signing up to ongoing “associate” membership of the CFP under some other name or guise. Government can use semantics, but if it walks and quacks like the CFP it is the CFP.
• Have complete freedom from the CFP with unhindered ability to FULLY exercise EXCLUSIVE sovereignty over our entire EEZ – we cannot have fishing bound into regulatory alignment through trying to create a “level playing field” of rules – the EU means this to be shadowing their rules.
• Have NO rollover of current unlimited EU ‘equal access’ access and ‘relative stability’ resource shares – this is key! The Political Declaration obliges us to have an agreement on “access & quota shares” (the EU wants a continuation of the current exploitationary arrangements) butthe Political Declaration neither specifies an amount or time frame.
• Therefore, the government MUST ensure that any arrangement is on a STRICTLY ANNUAL basis and that ANY access or quota swap is ONLY granted when the UK receives a reciprocal value of fishing opportunities in return – this is no different than to how Norway, Iceland and Faroe operate.
• ANY fishing agreement must not negate a repatriation of the UK’s rightful share of resources as happens automatically as we revert to international law under UNCLOS. In order to comply with UNCLOS requirements to fish its available waters sustainably the EU MUST cut its cloth to reflect the loss of UK waters – they can’t continue to claim 90% of channel Cod, Whiting and Haddock when 60% of catches are from UK waters.
• Consequently, as a prerequisite to any agreement on access and quota shares, the EU MUST, therefore, recognise Britain’s RIGHTFUL share of resources under the international principle of ‘Zonal Attachment’ – where nation’s have resource shares based on the predominance of species in their waters. ANY limited annual access must NOT be granted until the EU recognises the UKs rightful Zonal Attachment shares.
• Britain MUST be free to reinstate Mrs Thatcher’s ‘Economic Link’ conditions to curb EU owned but UK registered “Flagships” to ensure UK registered vessels deliver genuine economic benefit to Britain.
• We must have the legislative freedom to ban Electric Pulse fishing and Industrial fishing for Sandeels, along with the freedom to implement new discard free British policy. We cannot sign up to a level playing field where we shadow and continue the EU’s sclerotic individual species quota policies that have failed in our rich mixed fisheries – with fishermen forced to catch and discard en-mass to find what they are allowed to keep.
Fishing for Leave said nothing less than the above points will do!
It’s as simple as this genuinely taking back control is a multi-billion Pound Opportunity with Political Deliverance riding upon it.
Environmentally – Brexit’s the chance to take back control and rewrite policy to one that works with our marine environment. Policy which will husband our greatest natural resource for generations to come.
Economically – Repatriating our rightful resources sees a worth of some £6-8bn in processed value, this is before ancillary industries are accounted for. It’s a huge prize to rural coastal communities and the economy as a whole.
Diplomatically – Britain has the full weight of international law on her side and the EU’s own Article 50 entirely abrogates the CFP and all access right and quota shares. We don’t require or need to grant access and should only do so on a limited annual basis and only when a fair reciprocal swap of fishing opportunities is received in return.
Their seafood and financial markets need us more than we need them – seafood and capital flows globally to hungry purchasers worldwide. Immediate port disruption is a short-term inconvenience when weighted against the colossal opportunity of taking back control.
Politically– it exorcises the ghost of Heath hats a millstone round Conservative necks. Conversely, a second deliberate sacrifice of British fishing which is totemic in the public mind will hammer and haunt the Conservatives for decades. They will lose coastal constituencies, especially those Scots constituencies upon which the Union depends.
That is a far higher price than any marginal benefit any trade-off for fishing will ever obtain.
Britain and the government have everything to gain and it can only be lost through weakness and ineptitude. The acid test has arrived. The Johnson government will be judged on it and must deliver for their sake and ours.