EU plan to wipe out UK fishing industry

By March 13, 2018February 18th, 2021No Comments

British fishermen warn what ‘transition period’ means

Many see a Transition Period as being highly undesirable for many reasons. In the case of the UK’s fishing industry, it could spell disaster, according to what Fishing For Leave have told us. Here is their spokesman Alan Hastings talking to us yesterday:

“Due to the existential threat which the Transition Period and the continued submission to the EU’s disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its failed methods presents to what’s left of the British fishing industry, it is vital the government fulfils taking back control on this acid test, by not continuing or replicating the CFP AFTER we officially leave in March 2019.

“The government must implement a new, bespoke, and decent independent British policy. Failure to do this will condemn another British industry to be consigned to the museum and the memory.

“This would be a second sacrifice of an industry that is symbolic of our island nation and of taking back control. It would see the Conservatives eradicated in coastal constituencies from Cornwall to NE Scotland.”

Interview with Alan Hastings, Fishing for Leave Spokesman, 10 Mar 2018


During the Transition Period as it has been described, the UK will have no say on anything. Unless the fishing industry is specifically exempted, Britain’s fishermen will be trapped in the regime of the CFP and the EU can enact whatever changes it wants. The UK government will be powerless. These changes are likely to lead to the further erosion of the UK’s fleet.

“The EU can implement detrimental policy to cull the UK fleet which would allow the EU to claim the “surplus” resources the UK no longer had the fleet capacity to catch under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) Article 62.2.

“The EU uses a quota system to manage mixed fisheries. Fishermen cannot help but catch a mix of species and are forced to discard the “wrong” species they have no quota to keep. They then have to catch more than necessary whilst attempting to find the “right” species they can keep.”

Briefing paper for the ERG, 06 Mar 2018

This is the so-called “discard” system which is so controversial and which is closely linked to the “choke” debate. Bear with us while we explain.

Next year the EU intend to ban the discarding of fish which are caught in a mixed catch and which must be thrown back to stop the boat going over its quota on particular species. They plan to install CCTV to stop boats sifting through their mixed catch and throwing back dead fish from over-quota species.

“If a full CCTV enforced discard ban is implemented, fishing must stop on exhausting the lowest quota allocation as otherwise vessels would keep catching the species they have no quota for whilst looking for others.

“These are called ‘choke species’ as they choke/shut down boats, fisheries or areas, stopping vessels from catching their full allocation of quota which they must take in order to be viable.

“Government studies show that “choke species” will result in approximately 60% of the fish resources Britain is allocated going uncaught and a similar proportion of the fleet will go bankrupt as a result.”

Briefing paper for the ERG, 06 Mar 2018


If the CFP continues after March 2019, and if the UK’s waters finally become the property of the United Kingdom again after that, the UK fishing fleet will be of an insufficient size to take advantage of this, says Fishing for Leave.

The UN has an international agreement called UNCLOS – the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, which regulates fishing. Under this convention any country that doesn’t have the ability to fish its own waters to full effect must allow other countries’ boats to do so. The UK would therefore have to give foreign vessels (predominantly from the EU) access to its territorial waters.

In effect, the EU could create the conditions where the UK doesn’t have a sufficient fishing fleet to fish its own waters. By the time the UK formally leaves the EU and leaves the Transition Period, the EU would simply have the right to continue fishing in UK waters.

A classic Catch-22.

Here are the closing statements of the document which Jacob Rees-Mogg and his colleagues received last week:


Fishing must be exempted from a transition or the EU will cull our fleet to claim our “surplus” resources. We must leave the CFP as of March 2019

A clear unequivocal clause is enacted in the transition/withdrawal treaty so that all rights and obligations are stated to cease to apply as per Article 70 of the Vienna Convention

Arrangements on shares of resources and access to waters must not be coupled to wider trade negotiations where it becomes a bargaining chip

New, bespoke, discard free UK policy is enacted so we have environmentally and economically decent policy to rejuvenate UK communities and avoid shadowing the CFP

We hope and pray that fishing and Britain’s coastal communities do not get mangled in the wider political context as we leave. A cheap failure on fishing will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and see the conservatives eradicated in coastal constituencies from Cornwall to NE Scotland when fishing is an easy beacon of success if we walk away, take back control and implement new policy.

Briefing paper for the ERG, 06 Mar 2018


It is quite possible that Mrs May is unaware of the long-standing Conservative commitment to leaving the Common Fisheries Policy of the EU. In which case, we will simply say ‘You’re welcome Madam’.


Here is what Mrs May said about fisheries in her Mansion House speech on 2 March:

“We are also leaving the Common Fisheries Policy. The UK will regain control over our domestic fisheries management rules and access to our waters.”

“But as part of our economic partnership we will want to continue to work together to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way and to agree reciprocal access to waters and a fairer allocation of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry.”

The first paragraph is exactly right. The second paragraph isn’t. The Prime Minister must be helped to understand that there are special circumstances surrounding the UK’s fishing industry and it must be excluded from any Transition deal.

If we had our way, there wouldn’t be a Transition deal at all of course.

We have long argued that the Transition Period is a canard. The government continues to refer to it as an ‘Implementation Period’, but whatever it is called it requires that something specific and agreed is being transitioned to, or implemented. Thus far there is no sign of anything other than it being a period in which the status quo reigns but without the benefit of the UK having any say in what is done or planned by the EU.

We are grateful to Fishing For Leave and to certain politicians who provided valuable assistance in the writing of this article.

“We deeply appreciate any inroads you can make with getting this highlighted as too many in positions of influence don’t yet get the full magnitude of the situation we are digging ourselves into.”

What Alan Hastings of Fishing for Leave says is right. We need to keep trying to get the facts and analysis out there. With your help we can keep doing this.