Scottish fishermen say EU is taking 'hardline' quotas stance pre-Brexit

As annual fisheries negotiations conclude, fishermen’s federation says ‘entrenched views’ in EU could affect future talks

Scottish fishermen have raised concerns that the EU is adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to Brexit negotiations.

Annual negotiations over fishing quotas – expected to be the penultimate talks the UK participates in before leaving the EU – were concluded in Brussels early on Wednesday.

The UK government welcomed the deal, while Scotland’s rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, described it as “broadly fair”.

Two-thirds of fish in North Sea and Atlantic fisheries will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year, with increases for North Sea cod, haddock and monkfish, while catches for mackerel will see a significant restriction.

But Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, which has been consistently pro-Brexit, said EU countries were “adopting entrenched views” that could adversely affect future negotiations.

“Looking to the future, international law is abundantly clear that upon exit, control over the UK exclusive economic zone will revert to the UK governments. That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when. But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that it will be on our terms.

“Taking a hardline stance will not help as we move to the situation where international negotiations with the UK as a coastal state determine outcomes.”

Ewing acknowledged that most fishermen were strongly in favour of leaving the EU, and said talks had been “challenging”. He added that anxieties remained about the length of the transition period and whether the UK would remain within the common fisheries policy during that time, as well as about access to the single market and imposition of tariffs.

He told BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday morning: “The attitude of member states was pretty hardline, and the phrase doing the rounds was ‘not a kilogram more’. That betokens the simmering resentment about Brexit on the part of many member states and the shadow of Brexit overhung the talks in Brussels.”


Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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