Fishermen’s federations adopt united stance on Brexit

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong.

The UK’s two main commercial fishermen’s federations  have established common principles to campaign jointly for the “best deal for coastal communities” in the Brexit negotiations.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) agreed the key outcomes they want from negotiations to leave the EU at a recent meeting in Edinburgh.

The organisations say fishermen across the UK have welcomed Brexit as an opportunity to secure significant economic benefit for coastal communities once the UK regains control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

At the meeting it was agreed they would seek fairer shares of catching opportunity for UK vessels and full control over access to the UK EEZ by fishing fleets.

They also want to see the creation of a “fit-for-purpose” management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on “sustainable harvesting and sound science.”

The federations are calling for the establishment of mutually beneficial trading relationships with the EU and other countries.

They also agreed that there must be no roll-over of the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and that negotiations regarding fisheries should not be entangled with non-fisheries issues.

And they insist negotiations must benefit all sectors of the fishing industry, including inshore and offshore fleets, fish and shellfish.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “Brexit has monumental significance for the nation’s fishing industry and our coastal communities in terms of providing the opportunity for a significant increase in economic activity.

“It is vital that fishermen across the UK speak with a united voice to ensure that the UK and devolved governments fight for the interests of these communities in the forthcoming negotiations.

“The UK fishing industry is speaking with one voice – it is a sea of opportunity that must not be traded away.”

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, which represents a broad section of fishermen across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, said: “We see the UK’s departure from the EU and therefore the CFP as an opportunity to address the distortions that were built into the CFP from its inception.

“The UK industry is united that this is a once in a generation opportunity to put things right.”