During the EU referendum campaign in 2016, Brexiteers from the Vote Leave campaign argued in favour of Britain ditching the Common Fisheries Policy
During the EU referendum campaign in 2016, Brexiteers from the Vote Leave campaign argued in favour of Britain ditching the Common Fisheries Policy.
The agreement opened up UK fishing grounds to European vessels, leaving many fishermen in this country aggrieved.
As trade talks continue, little progress has been made precisely because of fisheries.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has told Boris Johnson and David Frost that if the UK wants access to European markets, the country must open up its fisheries.
But even if the UK can withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy, one expert warned in 2018 that it could take 20 years to strip back Brussels’ legislation which currently dictates British fishing policy.
On top of this, the expert said that Whitehall has so little expertise in fisheries laws that it will take years to extract the sector from European rules.
According to iNews, Andrew Oliver said it is unlikely the industry will be free of European control before 2040 and that it “might never happen”.
He added that in the long-term it might be possible to wrestle back some of the quota and fishing rights taken by European fleets, notably the Dutch and the Spanish, but that it would probably cost billions of pounds in compensation.
He said: “I think it will take up to 20 years before we are completely divorced and have our own stand-alone statute book.
“What we may end up with may not look much different to what we started with. That’s not what the fishermen had in mind. I think they were ill-informed.
“At the same time as fishing regulations, the Government is negotiating eggs and cars and trees and every other manufacturing product – and finance and trade. Our civil service simply hasn’t got the capacity or the experience to legislate.”
Referring to the EU referendum, and the so-called Battle of the Thames when Nigel Farage and fishermen confronted Bob Geldof and Remain campaigners, he added: “In many respects the fishing industry – I wouldn’t say hijacked – but it was misled and misdirected in what it believed would come from Brexit.”
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This means there are many countries in the bloc where fishermen depend on British waters to allow their businesses to succeed, and therefore could not countenance a no deal scenario despite Mr Barnier’s defiance.
Between 2012-2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.
The Netherlands and Denmark both caught around £90million’s worth.
But the UK only gained £17million’s worth of landing from French waters in the same period.