The Threat to Brexit is Now – Not 2 Years.

After a number of articles in previous weeks Fishing News, Fishing for Leave feels it must highlight the reality of the Brexit situation. 

We also thank NUTFA for their kind words and support in last weeks Fishing News and the points they raise that the NFFO is dominated by flag ships.

There is a worrying lack of understanding in the industry of the immediate peril we face.

This is graphically illustrated by those who are meant to represent the industry who, due to their lack of support for UK withdrawal over the years, either don’t understand the situation of Brexit or are being disingenuous to their members, and the industry, for their own vested interests.

It seems Fishing for Leave are the only ones fighting the immediate dangers, whilst others with significant flag ship influence call for the status quo in meetings in London.

London Convention

Fishing for Leaves immediate task is to ensure the government denounces the London Fisheries Convention of 1964, which we highlighted have highlighted previously and in Fishing News 16th. February.

As this Convention pre-dates UK membership of the EU it will still apply on withdrawal. If it is not denounced within the next 4 weeks it will allow continued access for EU vessels to fish between 6 and 12 nautical miles after Brexit.

We therefore implore everyone in the industry to lobby as hard as possible to ensure this convention is denounced.  A template letter for all to send to their local MP can be found at http://www.ffl.org.uk/letter-to-mp/

Great “Repeal” Bill

Of equal importance is the Great “Repeal Bill” which will be included in the Queen’s speech in May. This bill proposes to adopt the entire Acquis Communautaire (All EU Law) into British legislation.

“The Great “Repeal” Bill will see the entire CFP adopted and continued in UK law – this would squander a Brexit clean slate.”

The industry MUST grasp the significance of the Great “Repeal” Bill and how it cancels Article 50 – Section 3.

This section states that “the treaties shall cease to apply” – as the EU treaties shall cease to apply so too shall the EU Regulations based on them.

As the entire CFP is constructed of EU Regulations the CFP will be cast aside and the UK can revert to a clean slate upon withdrawal,

The UK can revert to being fully independent under international law (UNCLOS 3 ). This allows the UK to regain sovereignty over our entire EEZ and all resources within and to implement our own fit for purpose policy to benefit all and rejuvenate UK fishing.

The Significance of Article 50 is the entire EU has agreed to its terms of termination of all treaties between the UK and EU.

Due to this the EU has no recourse to claim continued rights under international treaty law and the Vienna Convention on Treaties – it is the EU that has given this clean slate.

However, if the UK re-adopts the terms and conditions of EU law with the Great “Repeal” Bill, the EU can then claim under international treaty law that the current terms of the CFP have been continued.

This would be due to the UK’s adoption and recognition of them. In effect the UK alone will have re-agreed to the terms and created continuity of rights.

The government would have nailed both feet to the floor and deliberately squandered the chance of a clean slate which the EU has agreed to.

The governments feeble justification is that the adopted CFP will be UK law which it can decide to scrap immediately. This won’t matter as the continuity of rights will have been created no matter for how long.

“If it is the governments intention to scrap the adopted CFP why take the risk of adopting it in the first place?”

What A Clean Slate Means 

Should the UK not adopt the CFP then there will be a clean slate on withdrawal.

The UK can then rightfully claim our fair share of the internationally agreed TACs.

Currently we only receive 25% through the CFP, this should be 61% based on catches in UK waters.

This was shown by Fishing for Leaves Robbery of UK Resources document, which details catches in UK waters and then calculates the UK’s rightful share of TACs.

A copy of this 30 page booklet can be ordered here – http://ffl.org.uk/product/ffl-booklet-on-eu-vs-uk-catches-and-pre-and-post-brexit-tacs/

The UK will have regained what is rightfully hers by being free of the “equal access to a common resource” pot of the CFP.

The EU will be responsible to readjust its over inflated TAC shares to reflect the loss of the UK’s rich fishing ground so it is sustainable under UNCLOS 3.

“THIS MEANS THE UK DOESN’T NEED TO NEGOTIATE FROM THE STATUS QUO ON TACs!”

Thereafter, it is entirely at the UK’s discretion under UNCLOS 3 to manage the UK’s slice of TACs in any manner the UK sees fit.

The idea pushed by a few that we must continue with quotas to match our neighbours is a deliberate lie.

One pushed to maintain a disastrous quota system that is the cause of discards to suit a minority of vested interests. Faroe operates Days-at-Sea in its mixed fisheries so why not the UK?

Immediate Concern

The industry must fight to have fisheries exempted from the Great “Repeal” Bill and the next few months will decide whether the industry gets Brexit or a continued CFP

We are within months of the chance of a clean slate being squandered and betrayed to continue the status quo.

It is obvious from the remarks of those who are meant to represent the industry that the seriousness of the situation is not understood.

After comments in the Fishing News and Belfast Telegraph respectively, both Michael Park of the SWFPA and Alan McCulla of ANIFPO evidently do not understand the constitutional situation the industry is in.

Mr Park suggests that access is something to be decided once the UK has withdrawn – it is not.

EU access to UK waters will be decided in the next few months, when the government sets its position on the London Convention and the Great “Repeal” Bill, not two years down the road.  By then policy will have been agreed that will be near impossible to reverse.

If the UK was heading to be an independent coastal state with a clean slate it would be entirely upto us who and what fishes in UK waters after 2 years.

However, the government is proposing continuation of the status quo and squandering any clean slate due to the London Convention and Great “Repeal” Bill.

Having spent years in Brussels, and having aimed for a Commissioners job, we had hoped Mr Park would have a better grasp of the situation

There is then continual talk, such as Mr McCulla suggested, that the UK must negotiate a fisheries Brexit.  This surrenders to the idea that the UK must start from the status quo.

We do not, the UK must take a clean slate and implement new fit for purpose policy that benefits everyone.

The idea of negotiating perpetuates the idea that the UK starts from the status quo for political convenience and to appease a minority of vested interest and flag ships who want business as usual.

Industry Must Pull Together 

It is a massive disappointment to Fishing for Leave the level of infighting and back stabbing that is going on when we had hoped that after the Thames flotilla the industry would finally pull together.

Brexit provides a wonderful opportunity to start afresh and implement a new UK policy that provides financial stability whilst creating new policy that benefits everyone in the industry regardless of size or sector.

We have a one and only golden opportunity to reset policy to rejuvenate coastal communities and our way of life and heritage.

Sadly, there are many who are continuing with the same old mindset of ‘all for one – none for all’ and looking only to their own narrow short term self-interest.

Rather than look at the huge prize of reclaiming the whole of our fisheries for everyone, too many are still focused on fighting over the current scraps whilst missing the big prize.

It is a colossal disappointment to FFL that, despite some superficial rhetoric on Brexit, the two Federations are being so short sighted in stabbing at one another over 1500 tons of Arctic cod as they vie for their individual positions rather than a national one.

The fight over Arctic Cod and Blue whiting, that all but a few can utilise, is for international trades and swaps to get back fish which will be the UK’s anyway with a clean Brexit.

Rather than looking at the bigger picture too many are blinded by the same old bad habits with many wanting to see a continuation of the status quo for a minority of vested interests.

This coupled with a severe lack of constitutional understanding, borne from their unwillingness to back Brexit or to support SBF, FAL and FFL over the years, is leaving it to FFL alone to push the government for a clean slate and a fresh start to benefit all.

This is what Fishing for Leave are working around the clock on, but the majority of the industry and communities need to realise the immediate difficult task ahead of us. One made more difficult it when different sectors of the Industry are pulling in the opposite direction.

We therefore ask everyone to get behind Fishing for Leave in pushing for the scrapping of the London Convention and fisheries from the Great “Repeal” Bill.

We also offer both federations to look past the short term and as previously offered but rejected to support the Fishing for Leave campaign.