Brexit and a deal on fisheries
Sir, – Seán O’Donoghue asserts the UK position in the Brexit negotiations is based on “myth-making and bluster” as it seeks to reset its fisheries relationship with the EU (“Brexit – time to debunk myth of bad deal for British fishermen”, Opinion & Analysis, November 16th).
It is true, as Mr O’Donoghue says, that there are responsibilities, enshrined in UN Law of the Sea, that require coastal states to co-operate on the sustainable harvesting of shared fisheries resources. However, alongside these responsibilities are a number of important rights. The foremost of these is the right for coastal states to harvest the resources within their exclusive 200-mile economic zones, and the right to control access to those resources.
This is the legal bedrock of the UK’s case for a new deal on fisheries. Quota shares and access arrangements should reflect the UK’s new legal status as an independent coastal state.
Three statistics illustrate vividly why UK fishermen consider that they were sold out by their own government in 1974 and again in 1983. Channel cod: UK share 9 per cent, French share 84 per cent; Celtic Sea haddock: UK share 10per cent, French share 66 per cent; EU vessels take five times as much out of UK waters, in value terms, as UK fleets take out of EU waters.
In short, for the 40 years over which the UK has followed the Common Fisheries Policy, the EU fleets have had the lion’s share of the fish resources in UK waters.
The EU is playing hardball by making an artificial linkage between a trade deal and a deal on fisheries. A compromise is available on fish – access for EU vessels to fish in UK waters in return for a move to quota shares which reflect the resources located in UK waters.
In other words, the international norm on how two coastal states should relate to each other.
Time will tell which side has been telling itself stories to keep up its courage.
For our part, we see no sign that the UK government is preparing to sell-out its fishers a second time. – Yours, etc,
York , UK.