Scottish fishing chiefs last night urged the governments in London and Edinburgh to support its plan for a nine-month “bridge” after March 2019 to smooth the exit from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
In a speech at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF)’s annual dinner in Edinburgh, chief executive Bertie Armstrong called for a “commonsense” approach.
He added: “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 commonsense.”
Negotiations over fishing quotas take place annually, and as a new coastal state controlling its own waters after Brexit the UK will have its own seat in these often complex talks.
There is currently no legal mechanism for the UK remaining in the CFP for a transition period.
According to Mr Armstrong, there is a danger the UK may end up asking the EU to continue to govern Britain’s waters and “graciously receive the thick end of £2billion over the transition”.
This would leave Britain’s place at the “grown-ups’ table” empty, he warned, adding: “Norway, Iceland and the Faroes would die of gleeful laughter.”
He also rubbished claims that exiting the EU will shut off market opportunities and hurt the fleet through the loss of EU funding.
“This is not an industry that lives on subsidy,” he added.
Also speaking was fisheries minister Fergus Ewing, who said: “Things will undoubtedly start to get more difficult as we try to establish arrangements for 2019.
“We need to avoid being bound into long-term international sharing or management arrangements that would compromise positions as a coastal state.”