Having just read the article “Scotland’s fishing will thrive on a ‘yes’ vote”, I find that, as with most things with the Yes campaign, it is full of promises, but gives no indication as to how these promises will be fulfilled.
First off, the promises given fly right in the face of the Acquis Communautaire – the European Union body of laws, as set out in the treaties. The Acquis on fisheries, the Common Fisheries Policy, is equal access to a common resource and any deviation from this will only be allowed for a transitional period.
Much is made of an independent Scotland getting “a seat at the top table”. It may have escaped the Yes campaign’s notice, but the seat at the “top table”, for the countries which are part of the CFP, is occupied by the EU Commission, which negotiates on behalf of all member states.
We are told that Scotland becoming independent and becoming part of the EU will stop landlocked states, such as Austria and Luxembourg, having a say in the CFP. How? We are not told how. Perhaps the Yes campaign have also not noticed that it is a Common Fisheries Policy, the key word being ‘common’, meaning it is common to all the member states, landlocked or otherwise, and each state has a vote on the Council of Ministers.
We are told that decisions will be made ’’closer to home’’. Will they? The Treaty of Amsterdam, part of the Acquis, rules out any decentralisation of power to the member states, so how will an independent Scotland get around this? Once again, we are not told.
Scotland’s fishing quota will be protected. Will it? At the moment the Scottish fleet, as part of the United Kingdom, enjoys the protection of a derogation, from the real CFP, called “relative stability” – the quota system. This ensures that the lion’s share of haddock, cod, whiting, herring, mackerel etc. within the British sector of EU waters is caught by the British (mainly Scottish) fleet. Upon voting ‘’yes’’ to leave the UK, and upon rejoining the EU, Scotland will no longer be part of that derogation, and Scottish waters – now EU waters – and the fish within these waters will become a “common resource” for all the member states. Further to this, any deals within the these waters, with third countries (e.g. Norway), is negotiated by the EU Commission, not the Scottish Government. So far from protecting Scottish fish quota, a yes vote will have precisely the opposite effect.
Richard Lochead tells us that Scotland’s fishing grounds will not be used as a bargaining chip. What Mr Lochead fails to understand, or is wilfully blind to, is the fact that no bargaining chip exists.