The release of a report which reveals that EU boats catch more fish in the UK’s Exclusive Economic (EEZ) zone than the British fishing fleet underlines why Brexit provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regain control of our national waters, say Scottish fishermen.
The report produced by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland reveals that on average from 2012 to 2014 fishing boats from other EU countries caught 58% of the fish and shellfish landed from the UK’s EEZ zone.
This equates to around 650,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth more than £400m each year. In contrast, UK fishing boats fishing elsewhere in EU waters, landed on average 90,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth about £100m.
However, exit from the EU will enable the UK to assert control over its 200-mile EEZ, which means that foreign vessels could not then fish in the zone without express consent.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: “This detailed analysis of these landing figures is a bombshell that reveals the truly shocking extent of how our rich fishing grounds have been given away in recent decades.
“Brexit provides a sea of opportunity to breathe new life into our coastal communities by ensuring increased catching opportunities and fit for purpose management within our own EEZ.
“The UK and Scottish Governments must take heed of the startling figures contained within this report and work together as a team to ensure that the best possible deal is reached for our hardworking fishermen. It would be a monumental betrayal of our coastal communities if this opportunity was traded away in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
“Brexit has the real potential to turn Scotland into a world leading sustainable seafood harvesting and exporting nation.”
The full report – Fish Landings from the UK EEZ - which was produced by NAFC’s Senior Policy Advisor, Dr Ian R. Napier, is available at:www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/eez-report