The European Parliament is threatening to deny the UK “market access” in a Brexit deal unless it can keep control of Britain’s lucrative fishing waters.
MEPs have drafted seven demands to be included in a Brexit deal, including “no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities” and “maintaining the existing quota distribution in UK and EU waters”.
The leaked European Union (EU) document, obtained by The Guardian, lays out plans to force the UK to abide by the EU’s widely despised common fisheries policy (CFP) after Brexit by not “granting… access to the EU domestic market” if the UK refuses to accept its continuation.
They claim the UK cannot revive its fishing industry without violating United Nations (UN) targets. “It is difficult to see any alternative to the continued application of the common fisheries policy,” the document says.
However, the Fishing For Leave campaign told Breitbart London the EU was “playing hardball” because “64 per cent of all fish caught in North West Europe are taken in UK waters” and Brexit would be “a huge loss to the EU and a multi-billion pound gain to the UK”.
They explained in a statement that “the CFP will cease to apply automatically” after Brexit “as per the terms of Article 50, Section 3”.
“The UK will return to being an independent coastal state subject to international law on fisheries (UNCLOS 3) just like [the Faroe islands], Norway and Iceland”, they said, insisting the UK could continue to meet UN sustainability targets independently.
Taking back control of the fishing industry was a key part of the referendum campaign. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted this morning: “The British people voted to take back control of our fishing waters. This is unacceptable.”
The issue was brought into focus when Mr. Farage and Labour MP Kate Hoey led a flotilla of fishermen up the Thames, days before the June referendum, where they clashed with rival boats led by the singer Bob Geldof.
“The Common Fisheries Policy is sorted out on the principle of equal access to a common resource – which means what is rightfully ours, we share with the rest of the European Union”, Mr. Farage explained at the time.
“We’re only allowed to catch 20 per cent by value of the fish that swim in what should be our territorial waters,” he added.
UKIP Fisheries Spokesman Mike Hookem MEP slammed what he called “desperate attempts” by MEPs to “grab” British fish stocks following Brexit. He said: “UK waters and fish stocks must return to UK control, post-Brexit.”
The leaked EU document says the Brexit deal must include measures “ensuring the maintenance of the same legal conditions for UK-registered vehicles, without requiring stronger economic links that could virtually make it impossible for EU vessel-owners managing UK flagged vessels to continue operating in the UK”.
It concludes: “The nature of future EU-UK relations in fisheries needs to be seen in relation to the UK’s ambition in keeping close ties with its European partners and the common market…
“Every agreement that guarantees UK access to the EU domestic market has to guarantee an access to the UK fishing grounds for the EU fleet.”