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Marine / Long-term opportunities for fishing following Brexit

A LOCAL fishermen’s representative has expressed concern that the UK appears not to have sufficient patrol vessels to police its waters following a potential no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

SFPO chief executive Brian Isbister. Photo: Shetland News

Brian Isbister of the Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation (SFPO) said that in the “long-term” the industry was looking forward to benefit from operating outside the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Deal or no-deal, very little would initially change on 1 November, according to the chief executive of the Shetland PO.

“We are obviously concerned if the UK Government doesn’t have plans in place to police UK waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” Isbister said, adding that the SFPO as well as the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) have a ‘common sense’ rather than a ‘political’ view on the Brexit situation.

“There is a common sense outcome where if the UK is no longer part of the CFP the UK will be able to administer and develop fisheries management rules as a coastal state. We see that as a better prospect for the industry,” he said.

“This could potentially became a reality on 1 November either under a deal or a no deal outcome. We don’t have any political preference, we just simply see the opportunity of managing fisheries on the UK level thereby providing a better and stable long-term platform for the industry.”

He said that regardless of what the political situation would be on 1 November, the internal quota management arrangements currently in place would continue.

There is also no quota upheaval expected during the remaining two months of the year, usually one of the busiest periods for fishermen’s leaders anyhow, as the following year’s quotas are being negotiated in a series of international meetings.

Isbister said: “The two months will be used for negotiations – in essence it will be much the same.

“We are negotiating quotas based on ICES advice, based on a shared access type arrangement, and on all the things that are relatively known and understood – the new dynamic, however, will be the Brexit dimension to those arrangements.

“We see a potential benefit from the UK being in charge of that process rather than being simply part of it, but we are still a partner in a dynamic arrangement with other players.”

Acting as an independent coastal state also means that the UK is required under international law to co-operate with other states in the management of shared fish stocks.

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