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Environment Secretary Micheal Gove has signaled that the UK intends to leave the London Fisheries Convention (LFC) as the first move towards an eventual Brexit completion within 24 months.
The original LFC was signed in 1964 and it allowed vessels from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands to fish in British waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile range which was a significant upgrade for those fishers as UK coastal areas are abundant fishing grounds.
(It was also a significant upgrade for those who ship any kind of contraband to the UK because it allows them to get much closer to British shores and drop their loads with less chance of being detected by police — and people wonder why London has the world’s highest cocaine concentrations in their wastewater treatment plants!)
Once Brexit completes, UK fishers will obviously lose their right to fish in EU waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile range.
The Tory government said the change will allow more direct control and better responsibility for fisheries management in the 0 to 12 nautical mile range.
“Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy. It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters. This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.” — Michael Gove, UK Environment Secretary
“This is welcome news and an important part of establishing the UK as an independent coastal state with sovereignty over its own exclusive economic zone.” — Barrie Deas, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations
“For years, successive UK governments have blamed Brussels for their own failure to support the small-scale, sustainable fishers who are the backbone of our fishing fleet. If Brexit is to herald a better future for our fishers, the new Environment Secretary Michael Gove must keep the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to re-balance fishing quotas in favour of ‘small-scale, specific locally based fishing communities’.” — Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK
In 2015, the British fishing industry caught 708,000 tonnes of fish worth £775 million.
A claimed 10,000 tonnes of fish were caught by EU countries in Britain’s waters in the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone. (2015 statistics) It could be much higher than that, but nobody would know because nobody is policing it!
That’s a minimum of £17 million in fish that leaves Britain each year. Fish that will now be caught by UK fishers (and presumably) will be processed by UK fish processing and packaging plants, adding even more value to the British economy.
It’s true that since 1964 when the LFC came into existence the UK fishing industry lost millions of pounds sterling and hundreds of jobs every year for the privilege of belonging to the then-European Community / now European Union.
As so often happens in the postwar relationship between Britain and continental Europe, it is Britain that winds up subsidizing the continent.
How else can it be termed anything but ‘subsidizing the continent’ when millions of pounds sterling (in this example, raw fish) and hundreds of fish processing and packaging jobs were handed to the continent every year since 1964?
‘Here! Take our jobs! We’re British!’
Now that PM Theresa May has delegated this poignant case to Secretary Gove with instructions to effect a win for UK fishers, fish stocks will rebound, there will be more jobs for UK fishers, there will be more UK fish processing and packaging jobs, and anti-contraband efforts in UK waters will become more effective.
And that’s no fish story!