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Marine / MP concerned by reports of possible ‘ten-year review’ with EU for fisheries quotas

The UK’s fisheries bill, meanwhile, has now become law

Photo: Shetland News

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has voiced concern over reports that the UK Government may agree to a ten-year review for fisheries quotas in a trade deal with the EU.

He said fishermen wanted a “yearly review process, so this would represent a major breach of trust with coastal and island communities”.

“If the government thinks it can trade away fisheries as a last minute bargaining chip then they will find that fishing communities have long memories,” the Liberal Democrat said.

“This would be far from the first Brexit promise broken by Boris Johnson but it will be one of the biggest for fishermen.”

Meanwhile the UK’s first major domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years has now become law as the country edges towards the end of the Brexit transition period.

The Fisheries Act 2020 will enable the UK to control who fishes in its waters through a new foreign vessel licensing regime, and it will end the current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “This is a huge moment for the UK fishing industry.

“This is the first domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years, and we will now take back control of our waters out to 200 nautical miles or the median line.”

The government said “underpinning everything in the act is a commitment to sustainability, ensuring healthy seas for future generations of fishermen”.

It added that devolved administrations will now “develop new fisheries management plans for managing fisheries to benefit the fishing industry and the marine environment”.

The government said under the act foreign boats will be required a licence to fish in UK waters and will have to follow the UK’s rules.

Chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation [SFF] Elspeth Macdonald said: “The Fisheries Bill becoming law is another important milestone in the UK becoming an independent coastal State at the end of this year.

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“The Fisheries Act will provide the right legal framework for responsible fisheries management in the UK, and SFF looks forward to working with both the UK and Scottish governments in taking forward the innovative approaches, such as fisheries management plans, that the act makes provision for.”

Scottish fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing, however, was somewhat less enthusiastic.

He said “nothing in this legislation can compensate for the loss of our biggest seafood markets in the EU and the wider damage that it will cause to our coastal communities”.

“While this act will provide a necessary framework to manage fisheries from 1 January 2021, we continue to believe that the best future for Scotland is as an independent nation in the European Union,” Ewing said.

“With just over five weeks until the end of the transition period, the UK Government must urgently clarify how it will provide us with the multi-year funding which was available from the EU, and support the new powers.

“We will also continue to oppose, in the strongest possible terms, any attempt by the UK Government to undermine devolved competence over fisheries and other interests through its Internal Market Bill.”

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