Foreign fishing vessels in British waters should land, process and sell their catches exclusively in the UK while paying the country a license fee, UKIP has said.
Outlining UKIP’s post-Brexit fisheries policies, Mike Hookem MEP said the industry is “waiting to be unleashed from the shackles of the EU.” He said the UK government must make fisheries a “red line” in upcoming Brexit negotiations, scrap the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and enforce a 200-mile (320km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
UKIP wants a time-limited license to be offered to foreign vessels which allows them to fish in UK waters but requires them to land and process the fish in Britain. Proceeds from the licenses would be “directly invested” into the UK fishing and processing industry, he said.
“If you want to come into our waters, you get a license and in the license it states you must land that fish caught in British waters in British ports, processed in British factories with British workers, and paid for by the French, Spanish and whatever.”
Hookem was unable to provide an estimate for the number of licenses issued to foreign vessels under the first year of such a scheme, but said all EU nations are “plundering our seas” and rely on British fish to feed them.
“They’ll all want to come into our seas as it’s our fish that’s feeding them. What I’m saying is we need those fish back, we need our waters back and we need to be processing that fish.”
Hookem said Prime Minister Theresa May is “poised to betray” the UK’s fishing industry, and bemoaned the lack of “balls” and “guts” of successive governments to stand up for the fishing industry.
The policy announcement comes as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of treating fishermen with “utter contempt” after the EU confirmed an independent Scotland would have to surrender its territorial waters to Brussels as the price of readmission.
Letter from UK government reveals that Tories are planning to sell out Scottish fishing – again. 1/4 https://t.co/qp3meUFXI3
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 9, 2017
Karmenu Vella, the European commissioner responsible for fisheries, confirmed there was no way a new member state could avoid adopting the CPF, in which fisheries are treated as a “common resource” and shared out by Brussels.
On Wednesday, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Sturgeon took to social media to highlight a leaked letter from Tory environment minister Andrea Leadsom to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).
She claimed the letter proved the government intends to retain key aspects of the CFP, which is deeply unpopular with Scotland’s fishermen and prompted many to vote ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum.
“Clear the Tories are planning another fisheries sellout. That’s why fishing communities need strong SNP voices,” Sturgeon tweeted.
However, her claims prompted angry fishing leaders to release the full letter, with Bertie Armstrong, the SFF’s chief executive, stating that on “any reading” it makes clear that the UK government is committed to exiting the CFP.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Sturgeon should withdraw her “absurd claims.” She said Sturgeon’s “amateur leaking and baseless spin” shows the SNP is panicking about losing a series of seats to the Conservatives across Scotland.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s grubby spin operation has been found out,” Davidson said.