Mike Hookem MEP: “Gove’s Fisheries Bill is nothing more than a pipe dream if May doesn’t get a grip of negotiations!”

UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has branded Michael Gove’s attempts to enable the UK to control Britain’s fishing waters post-Brexit, as “nothing more than a pipe dream if May doesn’t get a grip of negotiations.”

Mr Hookem’s comments came after the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, introduced a bill to parliament aimed at reclaiming the UK’s fishing grounds from EU; ending automatic access for EU vessels, and creating a profitable fishing industry. However, Mr Gove plans were immediately tempered in the document by an admission that the bill, “is subject to the wider [EU exit] negotiations.”

Speaking from the European Parliament’s Strasbourg Plenary, Mr Hookem said, “the EU has made it plain since the day after the referendum that they have no intention of releasing their grip on Britain’s fishing grounds. Gove is living in cloud-cuckoo-land if he thinks this bill will change anything.” 

“I can say with 100% confidence that the view of the European Parliament’s PECH (fisheries) Committee has not changed and the EU-27 fully expect continued access to Britain’s waters post-Brexit. If may does not show some backbone and get a grip of the negotiations, the EU will walk all over her on the issue of fishing.”

Mr Hookem continued; “while I welcome the direction of Gove’s bill – especially in reclaiming our waters and ending automatic access for EU vessels – the Environment Secretary’s words are meaningless while the weak and feeble Theresa May continues to allow the Civil Service to run the negotiations. 

“The only way this bill would have any hope of making a difference to our struggling fishing industry was to state that these are the UK’s intentions, REGARDLESS of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. 

“By adopting the tenents of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) into British law using May’s crazy Great Repeal Bill, the Tories have sold the fishing industry down the river and sentenced British fishers to many more years of EU control.

“Most small-scale fishers I speak to doubt they will survive the transition period.  As Gove’s plans can’t be implemented until at least the end of the ever-extending transition period, his ideas won’t be worth a damn to many small-scale fishers.

“Conservative betrayal after Conservative betrayal has marred their credibility when it comes to the fishing industry; and until Gove’s actions prove louder than words, I am not going to get too excited about anything the Tories have to say. Too much of it is nothing more than empty words.

(See: Gove launches Fisheries Bill to take back control of UK waters)

FISHERIES BILL LAUNCHED

The launch of the Governments Fisheries Bill by DEFRA secretary of state Michael Gove was given a cautious and ambivalent welcome by many in the Fishing industry.

The government’s announcement said;

 The Fisheries Bill will enable the UK to control who may fish in our waters and on what terms.’ ‘The Bill also gives the UK the power to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and with other coastal states and manage fisheries more effectively and sustainably in future.’

At its heart the Bill seeks to deliver

  • Controlling access – by ending current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters.
  • Setting fishing opportunities – by proposing powers to ensure that the UK can set its own fishing quota and days at sea.
  • Protecting the marine environment – by ensuring fisheries management decisions are taken for the benefit of the whole marine environment

Fishing for Leave founder Aaron Brown said; “Many who have fought for 25 years to escape the disastrous CFP thought we would never see this day”.

“Where legislation would allow Britain to take back control of our waters, £6-8bn of our resources and decide access and management for our own national benefit as Norway, Iceland and Faroe do.”

“That is hugely welcome, but the devil is in the detail which we fear. As the government admits this bill is subject to the wider negotiations”.

“Negotiations where disgustingly Theresa May proposes to re-obey the CFP after Brexit with an ever-extending Transition and a Chequers plan that will see the UK obey a ‘Common Rule book’ – probably forever”.

The Fishing industry and Fishing for Leave have warned that, with much of the industry already struggling, continuing CFP policy for the Transition would finish many off.

Organising protests in ports nationwide in April to highlight the Transition would allow the EU to enforce detrimental rules to cull the UK fleet.

FFL say this would then allow the EU to use Article 62.2 of UNCLOS to claim Britain’s ‘surplus’ resources a shrunken fleet wouldn’t be able to catch.

Aaron continued “The Fisheries Bill may set in place the legislative ability for Britain to independently take back control but it doesn’t look like happening soon which is disastrous”

Fishing for Leave also highlighted their grave concern and lambasted what they say is a failed proposal to address discarding of fish above quota limits whilst keeping the fundamentally flawed quota system that causes the discards.

“The government propose using our repatriated resources to give extra fishing allowance to vessels so they have enough quota for all species so they don’t have to discard”

“However, this extra will not be allowed to be profited from – it must be landed for free. All this will do is continue a race-to-fish as vessels have to catch more and more to find what they can profit from whilst, instead of discarding, have to land mountains of fish for free”

“We have told DEFRA this won’t work but fail spectacularly –  sadly our advice seems to have fallen on deaf ears”

 

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