The Prime Minister’s statement concerning UK withdrawal should be of dire concern within the Fishing industry.
The Great “Repeal” Bill, although repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, proposes the adoption of ALL EU Law (the entire acquis communautaire) onto the UK statute book.
This would result in the entire disaster of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) being continued in domestic legislation and would Betray the opportunity of Brexit.
This would be a worse position than before Brexit – rather than being bound under EU law to implement the CFP, Parliament would have adopted, endorsed and continued the CFP along with all its mechanisms and failings.
The chance of a clean slate to rebuild communities and a multi-billion pound UK industry would be squandered.
The entire CFP is constructed of EU regulations which are underpinned by EU treaties.
It is these regulations that gave EU fishing vessels the right of equal access to fish UK waters and the historic rights to do so.
These regulations also created an EU quota system and share out of these under Relative Stability keys which resulted in 70% of fisheries resources in UK waters being held by other EU member states.
Article 50 – Section 3, as agreed by all member states, clearly says ‘the treaties shall cease to apply’ upon withdrawal after 2 years or extended period. Resultantly all Regulations that constitute the CFP would cease to apply and all control and resources would be automatically repatriated as the UK would revert to international law as per UNCLOS 3.
Equal access, historic rights, EU quotas and relative stability share outs would all automatically cease.
This provides a clean slate, the government would be free to implement an economically and environmentally fit for purpose policy inclusive of all to rejuvenate and rebuild UK fishing and coastal communities with the clean sheet provided.
However, by adopting All EU law before repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and Article 50 expiring the government would be adopting the CFP into UK law with the Great “Repeal” Bill allowing the EU to continue catching most of our fish by enshrining equal access and relative stability quotas onto the UK statute book.
Although the UK would have control, fishing would be lower than many issues on the agenda. With little parliamentary impetus to start tearing up transposed EU regulations in the face of EU opposition, we could see the UK mirroring all future EU laws – we would be in the EU in all but name!
Rather than a clean break, as allowed in Article 50, the UK government would be mired in a battle to remove EU fishermen from a policy that it had adopted, accepted, recognised and continued.
The golden opportunity to repatriate one of the nation’s greatest renewable resources and rebuild UK fishing and communities would have been squandered for political convenience.
By the time the UK government could look to help UK fisheries there may be very little left to save with the impending landing obligation.
There is huge danger that, with the current CFP management derogation due to be renewed in 2022, the UK could plausibly mirror all EU measures and run a concurrent policy to the EU to avoid politically inconvenient divergence.
The industry could be trapped in a tag along CFP in perpetuity and this is why it is absolutely vital that the industry opposes any roll over of CFP fisheries legislation as part of the proposed Great “Repeal” (adoption) act.
Fishing is the epitome of UK enmeshment in the EU and will be an acid test of Brexit.
If the government really means to take back control with a “clean” Brexit then there should be no point in rolling CFP fisheries into UK law rather than exempt it.
For fisheries to be cleanly repatriated the sections on fisheries that underpin the CFP MUST be exempted from the Great “Repeal” Bill as it goes through.
If not we are still in the Common Fisheries Policy in all but name and the Leave voters have been deceived, Brexit failed and the National interest betrayed.
To take back all fisheries will be controversial however the government must take the chance to show courage not cowardice in the face of the EU and stand up for our national interests – holding the fishing industry as a beacon to show that Brexit means Brexit.
The industry is in a very precarious and dangerous situation, and it is vital that the whole industry appreciates the severity of the implications of this turn of events. The whole industry must now get behind the drive and fight ferociously to stop the Great “Repeal” Bill continuing the CFP into UK law.
Fishing must not be sacrificed in the wider agenda for political convenience in unison with a minority of vested interests who have made representation in London that they would acquiesce to the status quo.
Fishing for Leave will fight vociferously, as it did alone before the referendum, to ensure that the vote is carried into reality.