Fishing for Leave had reason to cheer this week at a leak from within government.
The leak suggested the government will secure a “Clean” Brexit and that our strenuous efforts in highlighting and pressing the immediate necessity for the government to denounce the 1964 London Fisheries Convention has paid dividends.
It suggests the Prime Minister will serve the 2 year notice required to denounce this convention at the same time as notice is given to trigger Article 50.
This Convention granted other European nations historic rights to fish within UK waters between 6 and 12 miles and superseded all previous fisheries agreements and historic rights.
More importantly it was this conventions terms that were adopted as the basis of the CFP historic rights in the embryonic Regulation 2141/70.
As this convention would have still applied upon UK withdrawal it would have allowed EU vessels to continue with unfettered access to the Britain’s waters between 6 and 12 even with the CFP “ceasing to apply” as per the terms of Article 50, Section 3.
This would have enormously weakend Britain’s diplomatic position, continued access would have allowed the EU to claim continued fishing rights and entitlements and would have allowed seditious elements within the establishment to backslide on a clean Brexit for UK fishing.
We hope this leak is correct and the strategy and efforts of FFL over the previous 6 months, since we first highlighted this forgotten convention that many though non-descript, have nearly paid off. With the CFP ceasing to apply upon withdrawal, there will be no historic rights of access to honour.
This would represent the “clean” slate for UK fishing that we have campaigned vociferously for and which would be a first step in the strategy to see UK fishing turned in a new direction towards a bright future to benefit all fishermen and coastal communities.
Scrapping this Convention is the first step in the right direction and starts to unravel the incremental usurpation of British fishing into the EU project”.
It has taken extensive lobbying to do so. We would like to give a sincere thank you to those who sent the template letter we provided to MPs, to those MPs and Peers who raised this issue and tabled questions to press the government for action, to UKIP and Mike Hookem for bringing pressure to bare and to other Brexit groups who all contributed to bring prominence and pressure on this issue.
Hopefully this lone effort has paid off and it is disappointing that the two federations, who purport to represent the industry, have neither spoken of or helped on this fundamental, basic issue to secure access to our waters despite numerous offers from FFL to join the campaign.
Had it not been for the efforts of the team at FFL to bring this to the fore we would have ended up with EU vessels still working our waters just off the shore. This certainly isn’t what fishermen or the public voted for, it would be a betrayal of Brexit and the nation’s strategic fishing interests”.
Let’s hope that Mrs May really will show that Brexit means Brexit on this issue and that the government pass this first test of their resolve. Starting with this first step in the right direction of a “clean” slate for fisheries with results matching the rhetoric.
We also issue a note of warning on the words used by the government that it intended to scrap the convention “to secure a strong position…. If talks with the EU break down”
We hope that the strong hand is not being secured as a strategy to reinforce fishing as a strong leaver to negotiate and barter with and the government should be pressured extensively and unremittingly to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Especially given that the same leak quotes that, despite the superficial public rhetoric, behind the scenes “the government hopes that successful Brexit talks would include the right of some European countries to have access”
Securing all our grounds should be the first step in husbanding one of our nation’s greatest natural resource for the benefit of our own people, industry and communities”.
We perceive securing access and a clean slate as the start of a strategy to implement new fit for purpose UK policy that benefits all fishermen and regenerates communities and a way of life for a long term future.
As we push on we ask all fishermen to join in helping those already fighting hard to make sure the one and only chance and golden opportunity infront of us is realised after this first successful step on pushing the government onto the right road.