Scottish Fishermen want immediate exit from Common Fisheries Policy after Brexit

Scottish fishermen have demanded the immediate exit from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) when Britain leaves the European Union.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) insists the UK must be able to operate as "a fully-functioning coastal state" after it has left the bloc in March 2019.

The call is one of several "red lines" which the industry is warning the UK Government not to cross in Brexit negotiations with the EU.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "We simply will not accept a continuation of the status quo for almost two years.

"Reciprocal access is anything but - under the present arrangements EU vessels harvest 10 more fish from our waters than we do from theirs.

"In her Mansion House speech, the Prime Minister spoke of ensuring 'fairer shares' for our fishermen - that must mean an immediate end to the current situation in which EU vessels are entitled, gratis, to 60% of the fish in UK waters while our own vessels are allowed to catch just 40%."

The intervention follows the recent publication of draft guidelines for the EU side of Brexit trade talks, which seek "existing reciprocal access to fishing waters" during the transition period.

The SFF is demanding an immediate exit from the CFP in March 2019, "ensuring the EU does not have the right to grant access and set fishing opportunity and management rules within UK waters during the implementation period".

It calls for the UK to become a fully-functioning coastal state from "day one" under international law, with a nine-month "bridge" to align with the international fisheries negotiations calendar.

They also say discussions over access to UK waters should be on UK terms and that there should be no link between access and trade.

Mr Armstrong added: "The guiding principles in our waters must be 'science, sovereignty and shares' - sustainable limits set by robust science, sovereignty as defined in international law over the resources in our waters and shares of opportunity that reflect those principles.

"In other words, we decide who catches what, where and when in our seas.

"Senior politicians and negotiators need to understand that adopting any other position in the talks will be a monumental betrayal once again of the interests of the fishing industry at a time when polls show huge public support for our position."

A UK Government spokesman said: "When we leave the European Union, we will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and regain control of access to our waters.

"As part of a new economic partnership we want to continue to work with the EU to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way and to agree reciprocal access to waters and a fairer allocation of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry."

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