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Fisheries committee demand ‘nonsense’, claims industry

Conservative MEP Ian Duncan.

FISHERMEN have reacted with fury and disbelief to demands from the European Parliament’s fisheries committee that any future Brexit trade deal should guarantee continued access for EU boats to UK waters.

 Scotland’s Conservative MEP Ian Duncan described the approach of the committee as “nonsense”, while the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) said such a demand was akin to the UK asking for access to the French vineyards.

“With certain EU fishing vessels catching upwards of 60 per cent of their catch in UK waters, it is clear that there will be a significant adjustment in EU fishing operations,” Duncan wrote in a letter to fisheries committee chairman Alain Cadec.

“However, as with Norway and Iceland, access to UK waters can be facilitated through negotiations similar to those currently conducted between the EU and the northern nations.

“The committee’s demand that single market access for UK fish products should be dependent on free access to UK territorial waters for EU boats is a nonsense.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, added: “This is like asking the vineyards of France, Spain and Italy to give away 60 per cent of their grape harvest, free, to anyone who wants to come and take it away to make wine.

“As a coastal state, we intend to restore control of our natural seafood resource and under international law foreign-flagged vessels will be prohibited from fishing in our waters without our approval.

“The fish in our waters are our natural resource, and the industry, Scottish Government and UK Government will not allow them to be bargained away.”

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