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Minister Provides Brexit Assurances
In a letter received before the announcement of the General Election, Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, has sought to allay the NFFO’s concerns over the level of Government’s ambition for the fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU.
Although the “Great Repeal Bill” will transfer much European law into UK legislation, to be revised by Parliament over time, the Minister makes clear that key aspects will change from day one. Most significantly, the arrangements for TAC setting and access arrangements will reflect the UK’s new status as an independent coastal state.
The industry has concerns about being ensnared in unworkable CFP rules even after the UK has left because of an anticipated bottleneck in Parliamentary time available to revise the law. Top of the list of anxieties is the implementation of the landings obligation which will come fully into force for mixed demersal fisheries on 1st January 2019 without any clear idea of how the problem of chokes will be resolved.
Selected parts of a letter from Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, to the NFFO on 19th April 2017
“Fisheries will be a key area in the EU Exit negotiations. We have a ‘once in a generation’ chance to regenerate UK fishing grounds and improve the conditions under which they are fished.
As I have previously mentioned, we are currently analysing all EU fisheries legislation. No decision has yet been made on the extent to which the EU legislation governing the Common Fisheries Policy will be incorporated into domestic law. However, as we leave, we will look to dis-apply the key elements of the CFP that are most unpopular and unworkable for the UK as a coastal state, including those on mutual access and EU-level quota setting. We will take the opportunity to develop a fisheries regime that is better suited to our seas and industries. We are considering the issue of the London Fisheries Convention carefully to ensure that we have full control of UK waters after we leave the EU and, as the Prime Minister said on 29 March 2017, we hope to be able to say something on this point soon.
More specifically, the Government will continue to champion sustainable fisheries and are committed to ongoing co-operation with other countries over the management of shared stocks.
I note your concern about the implementation of the EU landing obligation. I can assure you that we will continue to work with the industry to ensure that the transitions to full implementation in 2019 is as smooth as possible and that we remain committed to ending discards. We are working with other member States and industry to identify the best solutions to deal with choke species.
I have greatly welcomed the information and ideas that you and other stakeholder groups have provided us with, in the months since the referendum. I have asked my officials to step up the level of engagement with you and other stakeholders over the coming months, and I would encourage you to continue your participation. I hope this reassures that the government remains committed to delivering the best possible outcome for the UK fishing industry as we leave the EU.”
The Minister’s letter provide the most detailed insight yet into the Government’s thinking about its aspirations for fishing post Brexit and are closely aligned with the Federation’s own ambitions. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, and whoever forms the ministerial team for fisheries, the NFFO will work to ensure that these commitments are delivered.