Brexit an Opportunity for Radical Change, says Fisheries Minister

12 September 2016, at 1:00am

UK - The fishing industry has a once in a generation opportunity for radical change according to UK fisheries minister, George Eustice.

Addressing fishermen at the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation’s (NFFO) annual general meeting, the minister went on to add that Brexit provided a unique chance to go back to first principles when re-establishing fishing policy.

During his address, the minister conveyed a strong belief that being outside the EU and therefore outside the common fisheries policy (CFP) would provide “an opportunity to go back to first principles” and design management arrangements that are tailored specifically to UK fleets and fisheries.

He contrasted this flexibility with the rigidity of the CFP which has proved incapable of producing the responsive, adaptive, approach required to manage modern, complex and diverse fisheries.

Although the Government’s overall negotiating strategy for leaving the EU is still in gestation, the minister made it clear that leaving the EU would provide opportunities to renegotiate the UK’s quota shares and access arrangements, whilst simultaneously retaining access to European markets on reasonable terms. He also made clear that the UK would be taking the lead in all aspects of the Brexit negotiations, whilst consulting closely with the devolved administrations.

The minister highlighted the elements of the CFP which in his view should “in principle” be retained. These included a commitment to Maximum Sustainable Yield, some form of the landing obligation and outside the EU, where there will still be a need for international agreements, continued cooperation on shared stocks and access rights.

He also expressed the wish to work with the fishing industry to design a better future and invited all those in the industry to submit their ideas on the changes that they would like to see to help set broad principles to guide future policy on UK fisheries.

The NFFO has already met with David Davis, the minister responsible for exiting the EU, in advance of the Cabinet meeting in Checkers which began to formulate the Government’s Brexit negotiating positions.

The NFFO has prepared a detailed position paper on the transition to, and shape of, all aspects of the post-Brexit fisheries regime as well as giving oral evidence to a House of Lords committee investigating all fisheries aspects of Brexit. Further to this, the member body is expected to take a leading role in a round-table discussion led by Secretary of State for the Environment and Fisheries, Andrea Leadsom next week.