FFL are incredulous over 4 specific words in the Conservative manifesto which indicate the government will only take back a tiny slice of UK water out to 12 miles!
Analysis and scrutiny of every word is key in any legal or political document. One of the “acid tests” of Brexit is to take back sovereign control from the EU of all UK waters and resources within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) out to 200 miles or the mid-line under international law.
This would allow Britain to reclaim a £6.3bn pound industry, worth tens of thousands of jobs, to rejuvenate coastal communities but the manifesto wilts on this key issue when scrutinised properly.
Many of the commitments in the manifesto are welcome. The government has committed to “work with the industry…to introduce a new regime… that will preserve and increase stocks… to ensure prosperity for a new generation” and FFL looks forward to fully engaging to do so.
However, without sovereign control of ALL waters and resources inside the EEZ all other commitments are worthless without the raw materials and the most important ingredient – regaining our waters.
The manifesto states that the UK “will be fully responsible for the access and management of the waters where we have historically exercised sovereign control”.
The choice of the last 4 words are the key. They are ambiguous and a delusory play on words.
They don’t trip off the tongue and this peculiar yet deliberate choice of words are of dire concern and ring alarm bells for a total backslide and fudged deal.
Why hasn’t the natural wording of “all UK waters” or perhaps “all our EEZ” been used??
Why? Because the UK has never been able to exercise sovereign control over our EEZ in the waters between 12 and 200 miles from our shores! The UK has only ever been able to exercised sovereign control out to 12 miles before joining the EU!
Britain was already an EU member and bound by the CFP when international fishing limits were extended to 200 miles.
The UK recognised her sovereignty over the EEZ out to 200miles, with the Fishery Limits Act of 1976, but these waters were automatically subverted to the EU which exercised sovereign control instead of the UK as per the terms of the CFP foundation Regulation 2141/1970, the terms of which, in Article 2, Section 3, said the EU would control
“the maritime waters…. which are so described by the laws in force in each Member State”.
Therefore, although the UK recognised her sovereignty over the EEZ, the UK has never been able to historically exercised control between 12 and 200 miles because it was automatically subverted by the EU!
Before the UK joined the EU, Britain’s controlled fisheries upto 12 miles. This was reduced to 6 miles when the UK signed the London Fisheries Convention of 1964.
The EU adopted the terms of the London Convention and the UK Accession Treaty, Article 100 only authorised member states
“to restrict fishing in waters under their sovereignty or jurisdiction, situated within a limit of six nautical miles”
Although we welcome the manifesto commitment of finally committing to scrapping the 1964 London Fisheries Convention, that FFL alone successfully campaigned for, that only regains exclusive control back up to 12 miles once the UK leaves the CFP.
Therefore, the manifestos choice of 4 words are deliberate and indicate, as FFL has continually warned, that the government has no intention of taking back control of all our waters.
Is only this to avoid being contentious to the EU as they look to build a “deep and special relationship” with their “EU friends and partners”?
For the last 40 years the Conservatives flatter to deceive when the small print is scrutinized.
FFL sincerely hope we are proved wrong. We will now tenaciously press for answers to what’s defined as “waters where we have historically exercised sovereign control”
The Conservatives have got it absolutely right, that “When we leave the EU and CFP we will be fully responsible”. Responsibility will revert to Westminster for what is chosen for our waters and what areas of them, the buck stops entirely with MPs and the government.
The Conservatives better mean all UK waters within our EEZ out to 200 miles, otherwise Brexit, the nation and the opportunity to reclaim all waters, for all fishermen and for all communities has been betrayed.
Without all our waters and resources the rest of the fantastic wording of “a new regime….for prosperity for a new generation of fishermen” is meaningless and they have failed on this “acid test”.