Leaders warn against ‘vengeful behaviour’ at fishing talks

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation is launching its first annual State of the Industry Report.

Peterhead: Leaders are involved in talks.
Peterhead: Leaders are involved in talks.

Scottish fishing leaders have warned EU countries against “vengeful behaviour” at annual fishing talks in Brussels.

Representatives from European Union countries will gather on Monday to agree quotas for the year ahead.

However, there are fears some of the nations will adopt “hardline positions” in the talks because of Brexit.

The Fisheries Council meeting will be the last of its kind before the UK leaves the EU at the end of March.

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The warning from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) comes as it launches its first ever annual State of the Industry Report.

The document backs exiting the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and calls for the UK to be able to negotiate access and quota rights as an independent costal state by the end of 2020.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “We are getting close to the point where Britain leaves the EU, and this will be the last December Fisheries Council that we attend before we begin the transition to coastal state in our own right.

“Sensible management of fish stocks is extremely difficult when you are facing the double whammy of an unworkable discard ban that takes little account of the mixed fishery in Scottish waters and therefore the issue of choke species and significant cuts to key stocks such as cod and haddock that will exacerbate this problem.

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“If further evidence were required that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disastrous tool for fisheries management, this is it.

“But given that we have a fisheries agreement to negotiate, it would be utter folly for the EU to try to exact retribution on the UK by further punishing our hard-working fishermen instead of analysing the situation dispassionately and looking for a series of sensible, practical solutions to these problems.”

The UK Government has insisted that the fishing industry will not be “traded away” in Brexit talks.

However, the Scottish Government has said the Conservatives would use the sector as bargaining chip in negotiations.

Some EU countries, including France have warned that trade tariffs may be placed on seafood produce after Brexit if its fishermen are not given fair access to UK waters.

Last month, all 13 Scottish Conservative MP’s, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell wrote to the Prime Minister saying they could not support an EU deal that “would prevent the UK from independently negotiating access and quota shares”.


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