Elspeth Macdonald and Barrie Deas, chief executives of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) respectively, said: “For the fishing industry in the UK, leaving the Common Fisheries Policy has always been about redressing a fundamental issue: the woefully unfair allocation of quota shares in our waters, where the EU fleet has an unfettered right of access to the UK’s rich fishing grounds and fish five times more in UK waters than we fish in theirs. 

“The only satisfactory means of ensuring that this is achieved is for the UK, as a sovereign coastal state, to maintain full control over access to our waters.

“That does not mean denying EU vessels access to fish in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone. Rather, that such access would be negotiated annually – as is the norm for the EU and Norway and other non-EU fishing nations. 

“Under international law, this will be the default position if a Fisheries Agreement cannot be reached.

“Evidently, it would be preferable if the right deal could be agreed, meeting the industry’s objective of control of access to fish in the UK EEZ and fairer quota shares based on zonal attachment, but if an acceptable deal cannot be reached then the catching sector would prefer these issues to be addressed through the annual negotiations process. This is in line with the government’s negotiating position, which we fully support.

“Ultimately, it is up to the EU which of the two routes it wishes to take towards the UK becoming a coastal state – through a stable framework agreement that respects UK sovereignty and follows similar arrangements that the EU has with other coastal states in the north-east Atlantic, or via a more uncertain route for the EU where everything is done through annual negotiations with no framework agreement in place.”