How Government MUST Deal With Both
There’s a distinction between 2 legal entities people commenting on fishing access need to make;
1) Is EU registered vessels fishing our waters under the CFPs foundation of ‘equal access to a common resource’
2) Is EU owned but UK registered ‘Flagships’ who are de-facto British and who are registered in Britain under the terms of EU freedom of establishment.
The big factory ships many have recently seen tearing up the channel are EU registered. No one “sold quota to them” as the Remain campaign often liked to claim.
They fly another EU Member State’s flag, fishing against that states quotas. They are in British waters under the terms of ‘equal access’. They have quota to fish for species around Britain from the unfair EU ‘Relative Stability’ quota shares system. Where for example the EU has 90% of the southern North Sea Herring quota yet for years 95% of the catches are from what should be British waters.
Flagships who are registered as “British” managed to do so under the terms of EU ‘Freedom of Establishment’. Mrs Thatcher’s government tried to clamp down on them with a strong Economic Link in the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act, but this was overruled by the ECJ in the infamous Factortame case as a breech of the EUs freedoms.
Flagships have acquired up to half of what little quota share the UK does get under Relative Stability quota. Achieved by these bigger EU companies being able to muscle out British family owned fishing boats left struggling with the initial loss of Britain’s rightful share of resources.
Britain has re-obeyed all EU laws (including the CFP) for the 11-month Transition. When this ends Britain will (finally) revert to being a normal independent coastal state under international law – UNCLOS.
The CFP will AUTOMATICALLY cease to apply to the UK and all ‘Equal Access’ and ‘Relative Stability’ shares with it.
The ONLY way the status quo continues is if the government sells out the automatic clean break by rolling over the current EU access and quota shares. This mustn’t happen.
Britain must take the clean break and the government must ensure;
~ EU Registered boats (like the factory ships tearing up the channel) will automatically be barred from UK waters. With only limited annual access granted for a few when the UK receives a reciprocal value of fishing opportunities in return.
Any foreign vessels licensed to fish must see a condition of that license being that they must land, sell AND process all catches in Britain. This is to enure Britain see’s economic benefit from those resources, and most importantly, to ensure compliance with conservation measures.
The EU will have no ability or right to claim the huge quotas it has awarded itself based on fish in British waters. The EU will have to cut its quota cloth to reflect the loss of British waters and resources from the common EU pot in order for the EU to fulfil UNCLOS requirement for a state to fish its waters sustainably.
~ Flagships will still legally be ‘British’. What is vital is government reinstates Mrs Thatcher’s 1988 Economic Link conditions to ensure Flagships behave as though British and deliver genuine economic benefit to Britain.
All British fishing vessels MUST be; 60% British owned; 60% British crewed; land, process AND sell 60% of their catches in Britain.
No one is against inward investment to Britain, but it MUST be regulated so British fishing boats who harvest a national resource give benefit to British ports and communities.
To genuinely take back control the government MUST NOT cave to the EUs interpretation of the Political Declaration meaning Britain must concede to rolling over the status quo on fishing.
Instead the government MUST not shrink from insisting that;
~ The UK will be COMPLETELY free of the CFP with no regulatory alignment through “level playing field” conditions being applied to fishing.
~Any agreement on fishing opportunities will be on a STRICTLY ANNUAL basis. Any access and/or quota swaps must ONLY be granted when the UK receives a reciprocal value of fishing opportunities in return.
~ There will be NO roll over of current EU access and quotas. ANY fishing agreement and access/quota shares will ONLY be agreed if the EU recognises the UK’s rightful share of quotas based on the international principle of Zonal Attachment – where nation’s receive shares based on the predominance of species in their waters.
~ The Political Declaration terms of no impingement on freedom of establishment (Paragraph 29.) MUST NOT apply to fishing. The government must be free to reinstate Mrs Thatcher’s Economic Link to ensure Flagships deliver genuine economic benefit to Britain.
If the government fails in any of the above then the continued exploitation of Britain’s greatest natural resource by others will continue and Britain and her coastal communities will continue to be deprived of a £6-8bn industry we can take back control of.