Mr Hookem’s comments came after the Government responded to his petition that called for a clean break from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the removal of the fishing industry from Theresa May’s EU ‘Repeal Bill’; which attracted over 35,000 signatures within its first two weeks.
Speaking from Brussels where he has been fighting EU plans for more electro-pulse fishing in British waters, Mr Hookem said; “It’s all very well and good crowing that we will be an ‘independent Coastal State’, but what difference does that make if we adopt the terms of the CFP into British law and continue the status quo.”
“The response from the Government is laughable, and they should hang their heads in shame that they are treating hard working people looking to secure their future in such a way.
“For me, the response to my petition poses more questions than it answers!”
“First and foremost, the British people did not vote for ‘continuity’! They voted for change, especially in the fishing industry, which has been decimated by over 40 years of the EU’s CFP!
“So why then do we have a Government minister proposing to adopt the ‘technical measures’ of the CFP into British law once we are supposedly free to make our own fisheries decisions?
“Does he realise this means the continuation of quotas imposed by Brussels; continued access for EU vessels, which currently take 70% of the fish caught in UK waters; and the continuation of the horrific electro-pulse fishing experiments – a practice so destructive that even China has banned it - that is wiping out fish stocks and ecosystems across the South-East coast?
“The Government response also fails to address the central issue of the EU taking us to court under the Vienna Convention, citing ‘continuity of rights’, if we do take the CFP into British law and then try to change any agreement made during the negotiations.
“Any legal action of this type would lead to protracted wrangling over many years; the continuation of the status quo in the interim; and British fishing businesses, going to the wall due to the continued constraints imposed by Brussels.
“While I look forward to Fisheries Bill with baited breath, I think it is only fair that the Government answer the simple questions posed by the majority of those in the fishing industry before that.
“So, let me put those question into language even the Government will understand.
“When will the UK be freed from the hated CFP – including the technical measures which have done so much damage to the British fishing industry, our aquaculture, and our fish stocks?
“When will we reclaim our 200-mile EEZ for UK vessels to exploit?
"And when will Theresa May’s Government wake up and realise we do not want Brexit in name only?
“The people of Britain want change, and correcting the past injustices in the fishing industry would be a bloody good place to start!”
The text of Government’s response to Mike Hookem MEP petition:
When the UK leaves the EU, we will no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy.
As an independent Coastal State, we will regain our rights to manage our fisheries in accordance with our rights under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and have control of our Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nautical miles or the median line with other states). The UK will be responsible for the management of natural marine resources in this area and will be able to control and manage access to UK waters including fisheries.
The Government has always been clear that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill ensures that, so far as possible, the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before. This will provide the maximum possible certainty and continuity to businesses, workers and consumers across the UK – so that they can have confidence that they will not be subject to unexpected changes on the day we leave the EU.
The Bill delivers on our promise to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK. It is the mechanism by which the UK will leave the EU while taking back control.
The Fisheries Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech in June will demonstrate how we are taking back control of access to our waters and the allocation of fishing opportunities.
The remaining technical elements of current EU fisheries law will be incorporated in to UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, ensuring both certainty and that our fisheries are managed sustainably.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The original text of Mike Hookem MEP's petition:
Stop the Common Fisheries Policy being adopted into UK law post-Brexit.
We call on the Government to make the fishing industry a stand-alone entity, outside of the 'Great Repeal Bill,' after revelations that 'technical measures' of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will be adopted into UK law on our leaving the EU.
On the UK's withdrawal from the EU, Britain can leave the CFP and reclaim its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under international law (UNCLOS).
Adopting UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) would allow total UK control over access; the setting of quota; fisheries management, and fishing systems; rather than blindly following the terms dictated to us by Brussels.
However, adopting the CFP into UK law for transitional purposes not only allows continued access for EU vessels into UK waters but also opens the possibility for the EU taking legal action, claiming, 'continuity of rights.'
Therefore, if we are to have a fishing industry post-Brexit, keeping the terms of the CFP in place is not an option!