Fishermen’s organisation Fishing for Leave say the transition the government has ‘capitulated’ means the UK must obey all EU law including the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for 21 months after Brexit including any resource cuts the EU imposes.
They say government assurances are bunkum when what has been signed up to in the draft transition proposals is read.
FFL recently organised protests with thousands of fishermen to protest the transition which stops the UK becoming an independent state like Norway, Iceland and Faroe at the end of Article 50 on 29th March 2019.
They say the transition squanders the opportunity to repatriate UK waters and around £6 to 8bn of resources within the vast British Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and implement new UK policy that would work and do so for all fishermen to rejuvenate communities.
Fishing for Leave say not only is what’s left of the British industry staring down the barrel of a gun with the ill-founded 2019 discard ban that could bankrupt the British fleet, but during the transition the government has agreed the EU is free to cut the UK industries throat by slashing the UKs current small resource shares within the EU.
When called to account to furious MPs in the House of Commons on the 20th of March to explain this capitulation Mr Gove offered assurances that as the transition was only for limited time and that rules would stay the same the industry would be safe.
Fishing for Leave say that is “dangerously delusional nonsense”.
They highlight that currently the EU shares out the resources in what are now EU waters through a system of ‘Relative Stability Shares’ – initiated in 1983 with Regulation 170/83. This gave Britain a disproportionately unfair share of only 25% of resources although Britain contributes half the waters and 60% of the catches in the international fishing areas off NW Europe.
However, Mr Gove and the government insist that the current shares will be preserved to allow the industry to struggle on until ‘jam tomorrow’ at the end of the transition. The government now hides behind the protestation of ‘good faith’ to suggest this protects the UK.
Mr Gove’s statement to the commons read;
…the Commission has agreed amendments to the text that provide additional reassurance. The revised text clarifies that the UK’s share of quotas will not change during the implementation period. Furthermore, the agreement includes an obligation on both sides to act in good faith throughout the implementation period. Any attempts by the EU to operate in a way that harmed the UK fishing industry would breach that obligation.
FFL highlight that Mr Gove’s assertion that there will be no change to resource shares relates to ARTICLE 125 of the draft agreement that the UK will have to obey whilst being still subjugated to obeying the CFPs allocation of fishing resources.
Part 4 of Article 125 states;
Without prejudice to article 122(1), the relative stability keys for the allocation of fishing opportunities referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article 125 shall be maintained.
This sounds good until anyone bothers to read what paragraph 1 actually relates to….
Paragraph 1 refers to Article 43(3) TFEU;
The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt measures….on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities.
Alan Hastings of FFL railed: “What the government has signed isn’t protection but the opposite. The EU Commission has sole power to fix and alter the ‘relative stability’ resource shares and the EU is free to do so to the UK’s detriment.
These relative stability shares can and have been altered as happens on a new member state’s accession – the most graphic example being the commotion on Spain joining the EU.
“Mr Gove and the governments protestation that all will be well as the proposed agreement will be exercised under the provision of “good faith” – this is bunkum.
Article 4a – Good faith;
The Parties shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement. They shall take all appropriate measures…..to ensure fulfillment of the obligations arising from this Agreement and shall refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the objectives of this Agreement.
‘Good faith’ isn’t protection, it obliges the government to rigorously enforce all the terms of the agreement, including our re-obedience to the entire CFP which includes; how the council, on a proposal from the commission shall adopt measures on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities.
“Contrary to the semantics of the portrayal of ‘good faith’ being an all-will-be-well clause it is actually a swallow-the-lot clause. Far from protecting the industry the government has signed up to being over a barrel at the mercy of the commission who can require the council to slash Britain’s resource share.
“What could the government do? Zilch because they have willingly signed up to this agreement to be a vassal state.
“The transition renders all government and MPs commitments, promises and assurances to not only reclaim British waters but to even protect them for 21 months as worthless
“Trying to say the revised text clarifies that the UK’s share of quotas will not change during the implementation period means the government is either negligently incompetent or trying to spin selling a pig with lipstick.”