The Conservative manifesto suggests Britain will not regain their full territorial waters after Brexit, claims the Fishing For Leave group who say the careful choice of words regarding fisheries may foreshadow a Brexit betrayal.
The manifesto, titled ‘Forward, Together‘, commits a Tory government to a Brexit deal in which the United Kingdom “will be fully responsible for the access and management of the waters where we have historically exercised sovereign control” – an apparent assurance that the fishing industry will not be sacrificed as a bargaining chip in Britain’s negotiations with the European.
However, campaigners at Fishing For Leave, which led Britain’s fishermen into the infamous Battle of the Thames during the EU referendum, believe that the party’s “peculiar” use of the qualifying words “historically exercised sovereign control” should “ring alarm bells for a total backslide and fudged deal”.
— Fishing for Leave (@fishingforleave) April 26, 2017
“Britain was already an EU member and bound by the CFP when international fishing limits were extended to 200 miles,” the group points out.
Britain’s sovereignty over its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was acknowledged in 1976 by the Fishery Limits Act, “but these waters were automatically subverted to the EU which exercised sovereign control instead of the UK as per the terms of the CFP foundation Regulation 2141/1970”.
Fishing For Leave welcomed the Tories’ commitment to leaving the London Convention, which should extend Britain’s control over it’s fisheries from the six nautical miles the EU currently allows to twelve, but believes “the manifesto’s choice of words [is] deliberate and indicates, as FFL has continually warned, that the government has no intention of taking back control of all our waters.”
While the fishermen group “sincerely hope we are proved wrong”, they suspect that the manifesto prepares the groundwork for Brussels be left in control of Britain’s waters between 12 and 200 miles, as part of a deal which will “buy off smaller boats, appease the EU, continue the consolidation of Britain’s struggling fleet into fewer boats and fewer hands controlled by larger interests… and fulfil the EU’s goal of clearing our seas and leaving only a cottage industry around our shores.”
Acid test of Brexit is fishing. Government must now have the courage to take back control of our territorial waters.https://t.co/2hcfRwo1H7
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 11, 2016
UKIP fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem MEP said the manifesto’s wording “proves beyond doubt that Theresa May intends to only enforce the UK’s exclusive fishing rights up to 12 miles; rather than 200-mile limit we are legally entitled to post-Brexit” in an official press release.
“The Conservative manifesto pledge is nothing more than a weasel-worded way of saying ‘we are going to shaft you, just like Ted Heath did in the 1970s’.”