Fisheries White Paper is Nothing More Than a Smokescreen to Maintain the CFP Status Quo

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UKIP fisheries spokesman slams Government fisheries plans for being vague and lacking “desperately needed” direction.

UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has slammed the Government’s new post-Brexit Fisheries White Paper saying, “they have sold-out and betrayed fishing communities on Brexit,” branding the measures as, “nothing more than a smokescreen to maintain the status quo after 2020.”

Mr Hookem’s comments came after Environment Minister, Michael Gove MP, unveiled DEFRA’s post-Brexit plans for British fishing. However, any bid to reclaim the UK’s waters will have to wait until at least December 2020, after ministers announced that Britain would continue to abide by the rules set down in the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) during the ‘two-year post-Brexit transition period.’

Rubbishing claims by Michael Gove that from 2021 the UK would ‘control fishing access to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ),’ Mr Hookem blasted, “while Gove talks the talk he does not walk the walk! It’s all very well claiming that we will control access to UK waters, but that’s meaningless if the Government merely open the door to allow continued access for EU vessels.

Mr Hookem continued, “without strong commitments on what the Government aim to achieve in Fishing post-Brexit, today’s announcement is nothing more than a continuation of the smoke and mirrors approach to fishing we have seen all too often in the past.”

“For Gove to say that British fishers will get a “fairer share” of fishing opportunities is ridiculous and smacks of a stitch-up! Giving the inshore fleet a few extra fish to catch, while EU based flagships and a few of the big boys take the rest, is not what fishers voted for and not what they should be getting. We already have a situation where 97% of fishing opportunities are taken by a mere 11% of the fleet, while the rest go begging*.

Gove has got it the wrong way around! After Brexit, the British Government should be dictating who fishes what, where and how within our EEZ. If they want to ‘share’ a little, good. But I suspect that what Gove means is that the Government intend to maintain the status quo of the CFP by dressing it up as something it’s not.”

“What real fishing communities want to see, is a strong commitment to back British fishers and fishing communities; a declaration that the Government intend to reclaim the 70% of fishing opportunities in British waters that currently go to EU vessels; and a firm promise to protect our fishing waters from continued interference from Brussels.

“Anything less is a total betrayal of the fishing community’s Brexit vote!

“Protecting Britain’s fisheries is the ideal opportunity for ministers to show that they have not only some backbone but also the best interests of the British people at heart.

“Today's announcement leaves many gaps and vagaries that can be used to further sell-out Britain’s fishing interests in the future.”

“The fishing industry in the UK needs investment and skilled workers and today’s white paper fails to provide any guidance to an industry fighting for its future survival.”

*(P10) Fishy Business – Low Impact Fisheries of Europe Report into Producer Organisations