What will happen with waters currently shared by European fishermen under the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy after March 29? Once outside the EU, Britain will regain full control of fishing stocks unless its government reaches a deal with Brussels over the terms of its withdrawal.
Political deadlock in Britain over the terms of its departure from the EU is fuelling fears among fishermen.
As quoted by Al Jazeera, Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said, “This is a bit like Iceland the other way round: when they declared a 200-mile limit, the UK fleet didn’t say ‘That’s fair enough’, they went up there and tried to test it. That was the Cod Wars.”
He also explained there are already tensions between European and British boats competing for catches in the area, indicating it would take little for these to spill over.
“Our real beef isn’t with the French fishing fleet, it’s with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). But there are tensions right now, where French trawlers damage the gear of our local inshore boats worth tens of thousands of pounds.”
According to Trebilcock, a no-deal Brexit means that UK fishing patrol vessels would have to act robustly against European boats on day one in order to “send a message”.
“Brexit offers us a chance to change things – to get out from under the CFP which has held us back, to get that fair share of the fish and shellfish in our waters and to actually have control over who fishes, where, and what for,” Trebilcock said.
According to Al Jazeera, there’s another nagging question. What happens to the Europeans that make up a sizeable proportion of the crews operating out of the UK’s Newlyn fishing port whose status remains unclear?
Crab fisherman Armands Selis, the Latvian skipper of the Delta Dawn, has been fishing in Cornwall seven years and his crew of three are all from overseas. “In Newlyn Harbour, there are now 10 boats that are just European – they make up 30 to 40 percent of boats. English crews just don’t want to work on the crab boats,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The government will do what’s best for the government, they will never do what’s best for anybody else – fishing industry or otherwise,” said Sonia Andrews, a buyer at Newlyn’s fish market.