Fishing for Leave had reason to cheer this week when the government finally served notice to scrap the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 and secure all UK waters out to 12 miles.
Fishing for Leave were the first to highlight this issue and mounted an effective strategy and campaign over the previous 6 months to see the Convention abrogated .
We are delighted that the government has finally acted and that our strenuous efforts in highlighting and pressing this issue has paid dividends.
FFL alone highlighted and hammered this issue since first highlighting this forgotten convention that many though non-descript.
It has taken extensive lobbying to do so and we would like to give a sincere thank you to our members, the public, Brexit groups, UKIP, numerous MP’s, Peers and the DUP for helping to ensure this Convention was scrapped
We are delighted that FFL’s efforts have pushed the government in the right direction and have secured an important boost, especially for our inshore fleet.
Necessity of Action
The London Fisheries Convention of 1964 was a historical agreement which allowed EU vessels to fish British waters between 6 and 12 miles from shore. The Convention pre-dated Britain’s EU membership and would have still applied after UK withdrawal.
Failing to scrap the convention would have allowed EU vessels continues unfettered access to Britain’s waters between 6 and 12 even though they would have been unable to fish between 12 and 200 miles/the midline with the access to these waters through the CFP “ceasing to apply” as per the terms of Article 50.
Giving the 2 years notice to scrap this Convention was one of the first tests of the Government’s resolve and commitment on Brexit and was necessary to avoid diplomatically damage and legal challenges over continued EU access to our fishing waters.
A First Step
This is a first small step of an acid tests of Brexit and we hope the government can push on with the golden opportunity of regaining all our 200 mile/midline EEZ and a £6.3bn industry which can be a beacon of success for Brexit.
Hopefully this lone effort has paid off to bring this to the fore otherwise we would have ended up with EU vessels still working our waters just off the shore.
FFL are disappointed that, although previous DEFRA secretary of state Andrea Leadsom had pushed hard, the prime minister has sat on this issue for months when action should have been taken to coincide with Article 50.
Now the 200mile Manifesto
After prevaricating on this Convention, the Prime Minister must commit and clarify on her teams dodgy manifesto wording that suggests the government will only repatriate this 12 miles rather than the full UK 200 mile EEZ.
The proposed fisheries bill only mentions territorial waters not the EEZ, there is a distinct difference in what the words mean and it is disappointing to see some industry representatives celebrating these words without realising the danger of them.
The Fisheries Minister has continuously and firmly committed to the full 200mile EEZ and we hope the PM will back the Minister that sovereignty, access and control over all UK waters out to 200miles or the mid-line will be repatriated not just the 12miles.
A Note of Caution
Although excellent that the Convention will go, the previous words used by the government that it intended to scrap the convention “to secure a strong position…. If talks with the EU break down” are concerning.
We hope that the strong hand is not being secured as a strategy to reinforce fishing as a strong leaver to negotiate and barter with and the government should be pressured extensively and unremittingly to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Securing all our grounds should be the first step in husbanding one of our nation’s greatest natural resource for the benefit of our own people, industry and communities.
We perceive securing access and a clean slate as the start of a strategy to implement new fit for purpose UK policy. One that benefits ALL fishermen and regenerates communities and a way of life for a long-term future for everyone.
As we push on we ask all fishermen to join in helping those already fighting hard to make sure the one and only chance and opportunity is realised after this first successful step on pushing the government onto the right road.