Fishing body delivers Brexit message on the eve of Article 50

Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong

Scottish fishing chiefs took the opportunity in the final hours before the triggering of Article 50 to hammer home their demands for their sector to be wholly under UK control after Brexit.

Urging Westminster not to “sell the industry out” in talks with the other EU member states, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) said the case for repatriating powers entirely to the UK Government and devolved administrations was overwhelming.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong added: “The entire UK industry has united behind this principle, and legally, morally, economically, there are no grounds for any other outcome.

“Anything short of the restoration of complete control would be a colossal betrayal.

“Under international law, we should rightfully resume control over our waters, the so-called Exclusive Economic Zone.

“That presents a huge sea of opportunity for our fishermen, given that under the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) we are forced to give away almost 60% of a very high quality natural resource which is abundant in our waters.”

Mr Armstrong compared this practice to France, Spain, Italy and Portugal being compelled to hand over more than half of its grape harvest to other countries for wine-making.

“Imagine the outcry,” he said, adding: “It would never happen, yet that is what the fishing industry in this country has been made to endure under the CFP.

“Just as these countries would not countenance trading away their natural resources in any negotiation, we should be steadfast in protecting what is rightfully ours.

“We are not being unreasonable in this – once the principle of control has been agreed, we will as a coastal state be open to negotiations over mutually beneficial access on an annual basis like Norway and Iceland.”