In the wake of the latest instalment in the Brexit saga, SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong has reminded British PM Theresa May that commitments have been made to the UK fishing industry.
‘We welcome the intervention of the Secretary of State for Scotland and his fellow MPs stating that they could not support anything less than full and effective sovereignty over UK fishing waters,’ he said.
‘We have been saying for two years that the only plausible way forward for the industry is for the UK to become an independent coastal state with the power to determine who catches what, where and when in our waters.’
He reiterated the SFF’s position that any link between access to UK waters for foreign vessels and the trade in seafood between the UK and the EU can not be linked.
‘Any linkage between access and trade contravenes all international norms and practice and is simply unacceptable in principle,’ Bertie Armstrong said, commenting that industry leaders are seeking clarity from the Prime Minister on the proposed new fisheries agreement within the Brexit settlement amid concerns about a linkage between access for EU vessels to UK waters and tariff-free access for UK seafood suppliers to the EU market.
‘The industry’s priority has always been taking back control of decision-making over who catches what, where and when in our waters. That would mean the UK becoming a fully independent coastal state with its own seat at all the relevant international fisheries negotiations from December 2020. Negotiations over trade terms for seafood products would follow on from this. Therefore we have asked the Prime Minister for assurances that the establishment of a new fisheries agreement as laid out in the Brexit arrangements does not imply that EU vessels will be guaranteed continued access to our waters in return for favourable trade terms,’ he stated.
‘The Prime Minister has made a series of commitments to the industry and anything less than the fulfilment of those makes ‘no deal’ a more attractive option.’