The Scottish fishing industry is urging both governments to support its plan for a nine-month “bridge” after March 2019 to smooth the exit from the Common Fisheries Policy.
In his speech to the annual Scottish Fishermen’s Federation dinner tonight, chief executive Bertie Armstrong will set out the reasons for such a “common sense” approach.
He will say: “In her Florence speech, the Prime Minister proposed a transition period as Britain leaves the EU of up to two years, but also suggested that for some sectors things could be settled more quickly.
“That is clearly the case for fishing – we need only a nine-month bridge between leaving the CFP and assuming Coastal State rights. It’s common sense.”
He will point out that negotiations over fishing quotas take place annually, and as a new Coastal State in control of its own waters the UK will have to take its rightful place at those talks.
“There is no legal mechanism for running on the CFP for a transition period – that would involve us, a new Coastal State, asking the EU to continue to govern our waters and graciously receive the thick end of £2bn over the transition, leaving our place at the grown-ups’ table empty. Norway, Iceland and the Faroes would die of gleeful laughter.”
Mr Armstrong will also point out, however, that taking back control of access to UK waters is not the same as taking all the fish.
“Assuming charge of access and fishing opportunity does not automatically mean taking an excessively hard line with the remaining EU fishing members.”
While recognising that there are challenges ahead, he will further reject claims that exiting the EU will close off market opportunities and loss of EU funding will harm the industry. “This is not an industry that lives on subsidy.”
Scottish fisheries minister Fergus Ewing will speak at the dinner.