Fury from north-east fishermen at latest EU stance on fisheries

David Duguid, Banff and Buchan MP

Furious fishermen have criticised draft EU guidelines on a post-Brexit fisheries arrangement, which calls for EU access to UK waters to be maintained.

The guidelines state a free trade deal would need to maintain “existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources”.

However, that negotiating stance has infuriated fishing campaigners, who want the UK to pull out of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and end the current system of quotas and shared fisheries.

Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid, Scottish Conservative, said it was clear the proposal would be “totally unacceptable” to fishermen.

He added: “I will continue to make the case, as I did in the chamber today, for a fair share for our fishermen.

“For the avoidance of doubt, that means that we come out of the Common Fisheries Policy immediately upon leaving the EU and assume our status as an independent coastal state.

“We must be in control of who comes into our waters, and how much they fish.

“I will continue to speak up for our vital fishing industry, despite having received multiple assurances from the very top of government.”

The Press and Journal exclusively revealed how Mr Duguid had taken the industry’s concerns to the heart of Downing Street at a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May last week.

They discussed drawing up a bespoke post-Brexit fisheries deal with a new legal status giving the UK controls over access arrangements for non-UK vessels fishing in coastal waters.

Mr Duguid urged the prime minister to ensure the UK leaves the CFP immediately at the point of Brexit on March 29, 2019, and secure a nine-month transition period in order to enter talks in December 2019 as an independent coastal state.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “There cannot be ‘fairer shares’ for our fishing communities if we maintain existing reciprocal access.

“This latest gambit must be rejected. When we leave the EU, we leave the CFP and assume our rightful place at the table as a coastal state.

“Every year, we will then decide who catches what, where and when. The days of the EU taking 60% of our fish are coming to an end. The Sea of Opportunity is within reach.”

Respected Peterhead trawlerman Jimmy Buchan said Scotland’s fishermen needed to meet the challenge to their livelihoods head-on.

“The Scottish processing sector depends on the fishermen being able to harvest and land a wide range of raw materials across our coastal ports, which provides employment for rural communities and towns.

“At this stage of the negotiations we have to trust our politicians to secure a deal that will make create and secure a long term future for our all of our industries and communities.

“We will continue to lobby and criticise where possible. There is much at stake for all of our coastal communities and therefore we must challenge any trading away of our seas and future generations.”