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3 March 2017

Alan Hastings represents Fishing for Leave, an important grassroots pressure group formed by fishermen from across the UK. Follow their work at http://ffl.org.uk/ and follow them on Twitter at @fishingforleave.

Fishing for Leave, who organised the Thames Flotilla in June, have been pushing hard in Westminster recently.

Taking their comprehensive 144-page fishing industry policy document to Downing Street and DEFRA and launching it in Westminster with Owen Paterson and Nigel Farage.

This policy details that, due to the government surrendering fishing to the EU’s disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of “equal access to a common resource” in 1973, the EU catches 59% of the fish in UK waters and that fishing could be worth £6.3bn and tens of thousands of jobs to the UK every year with Brexit.

FFL show that the UK will automatically be free of the disastrous CFP upon withdrawal as the “treaties (EU law) shall cease to apply” under the terms of Article 50 which the EU agreed.

This means that all responsibility will automatically return to Westminster and the UK will have a clean slate on withdrawal to implement UK policy to rejuvenate coastal communities devastated by the CFP.

FFL is now campaigning vociferously to make sure fishing and Brexit is not betrayed by the Great “Repeal” Bill.

FFL warn that this Bill will negate the clean exit afforded by Article 50 by re-adopting all EU law onto the UK statute book.

This would be a betrayal of Brexit as transposing all EU law would cancel the “treaties shall cease to apply” clause the EU agreed to meaning the UK would have still be bound to honour the terms of EU laws having re-adopted them.

This would see the government starting from the status quo, with the continued CFP allowing the EU the rights to still fish in UK waters and still catch the majority of our fish.

Fishing for Leave say this would squander the golden opportunity to start afresh with UK policy that would end EU Quotas that force fishermen to discard hundreds of thousands of tons of quality fish.

FFL highlight that Quotas that limit fishermen to certain species can’t work in the UK’s rich fisheries where fishermen catch a mix of species.

They insist the government must move to a Days-at-Sea system that allows boats to catch less fish but land it all with no discards and providing accurate information for scientists.

The group also warns that the 1964 London Fisheries Convention would give back door access to UK waters after Brexit.

As the convention pre-dates joining the EU it must be scrapped by giving the two years notice required before Article 50 is triggered.

FFL insist that if the Government doesn’t denounce this Convention immediately, to close this back door, then it would show no commitment to Brexit.

If the government doesn’t clear this first hurdle for an industry which will be one of the “acid tests” of whether we’ve taken back control of our borders will the government sell the industry out a second time?