Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

United Kingdom to publish 'Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations' report

The UK's new policies will seek to establish a sustainable and profitable fishing industry that will support the regeneration of coastal communities while ensuring that fish stocks are managed effectively.

But the SNP fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing said that the White Paper trespassed into areas of fishing policy that remain devolved.

Additionally, the government will propose a new bill which will establish a legislative framework for the management of fisheries following Brexit. It will also look to propose a suite of measures to "improve the sustainability of the fishing industry, supporting the next generation of fishermen while protecting our precious marine environment".

The EU's current policy allows all European boats access to EU waters and fishing grounds, which it says allows fishermen to compete fairly.

But Scotland's Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said the United Kingdom government had "failed to substantively engage" with the Scottish government in drawing up its plans.

The intention to gain control of the waters and act as an independent coastal country has been welcomed by the United Kingdom fishing community.

Now, ministers are to publish a White Paper later setting out their vision for the United Kingdom as an "independent coastal state" from 2021 onwards.

Britain's proposals may run into opposition in Brussels, however, because the EU has argued that if United Kingdom fish products are to be sold in the rest of Europe, EU vessels must be allowed to fish in British waters.

The paper also commits to publishing an annual statement setting out the health of fish stocks and based on the latest scientific evidence. As fishermen can not target a certain area for risk of accidentally catching the exhausted stock, they either have to stop fishing or risk breaking the law if they land the extra stock.

And, as set out in its 25-year environment plan, the government will pursue an ecosystem approach to fisheries management that will minimize impacts on non-commercial species and the marine environment, it said.

And the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, which represents English, Welsh and Northern Irish crews, has described it as "clear, cogent, and apparently uncontroversial - within the United Kingdom anyway". As the same time the government is promising a greater share of fish stocks when the United Kingdom has left the European Union, so it needs to explain how this is consistent with fishing at sustainable levels.

"Look at the commodity we have".

"As an independent coastal state for the first time in over 40 years, access to United Kingdom waters will be on our terms, under our control and for the benefit of United Kingdom fishermen", food and environment minister Michael Gove said.

The paper refers to sustainability, legislation, quota allocation and access of foreign vessels to United Kingdom waters as well as access of the United Kingdom fleet to other country's waters.

Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong added: "Of course, there is a long way to go, and we now need our governments to show real backbone in the Brexit negotiations to ensure that these aspirations become reality".

Unveiling the government's White Paper on the future of fishing outside the EU, Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged to "take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities".

Interested parties will now be invited to share their views on proposals outlined in the white paper during a ten-week consultation.

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