Fisheries body seeks nine-month ‘bridge’ in a post-Brexit UK

A NINE-MONTH LONG ‘bridge’ should be put in place to smooth the UK’s exit from the Common Fisheries Policy from March 2019.

That is the view being put forward by industry leaders who are urging both the Scottish and UK Governments to support their plan.

The idea emerged in a speech to the annual Scottish Fishermen’s Federation dinner last night, when Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong set out the reasons for such a “common sense” approach.

Mr Armstrong said: “In her Florence speech, the Prime Minister proposed a transition period as Britain leaves the EU of up to two years, but also suggested that for some sectors things could be settled more quickly.

“That is clearly the case for fishing – we need only a nine-month bridge between leaving the CFP and assuming Coastal State rights. It’s common sense.”

Pointing out that negotiations over fishing quotas take place annually, he said that as a new Coastal State in control of its own waters the UK will have to take its rightful place at those talks.

He added: “There is no legal mechanism for running on the CFP for a transition period – that would involve us, a new Coastal State, asking the EU to continue to govern our waters and graciously receive the thick end of £2bn over the transition, leaving our place at the grown-ups’ table empty. Norway, Iceland and the Faroes would die of gleeful laughter.”

Mr Armstrong also pointed out, however, that taking back control of access to UK waters is not the same as taking all the fish: “Assuming charge of access and fishing opportunity does not automatically mean taking an excessively hard line with the remaining EU fishing members.”