Pressure from UKIP MEP, Mike Hookem, has forced the Government to finally engage with fishing communities and the public over their plans to keep the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) using Theresa May’s so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’.
Mr Hookem’s petition, which calls for the UK fishing industry to be made a stand-alone entity in the post-Brexit era, reached 36,000 signatories this week.
However, in an unusual move, the Government sent out a questionnaire to signatories asking for their views on how the UK fishing industry should look in the post-Brexit age.
The questionnaire came the day after Mr Hookem criticised the Government’s contradictory response to his petition, which stated we would ‘regain our rights to manage our fisheries’, but would maintain the status quo by adopting EU fisheries legislation.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Hookem said, “Having signed many Parliamentary petitions over the years, I know it is highly unusual for the Government to send out a questionnaire to respondents after they have already replied.”
“The fact that the Government have done this signals to me that they are starting to understand the depth of negative feeling out there regarding a second betrayal of our fishing industry.
“With Brexit, we have a golden opportunity to not only reclaim an industry that has formed a part of our heritage for over 2000 years, but which will also be worth over £6 billion pounds a year to our economy.
“So, I would encourage anyone who has signed my petition to hammer home these point to Government. We want the establishment of our 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ); the return of the 70% of fish currently taken from our waters by EU vessels; and the establishment of a sufficient fisheries protection force.
“Implementing these measures will give a huge boost to struggling coastal communities that have been devastated by over 40 years of the CFP.”
“The simple fact is, the people of Britain did not vote during the referendum to keep the EU through other means, and especially did not vote to continue handing over the majority of our fishing wealth to Brussels.
“The fishing industry does not want ‘continuity’, they want change!”
This is my response to the Government questionnaire:
- What are the most important things that the Government need to look at when thinking about UK fisheries?
- Reclaiming the UK’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from the EU
- The total removal of the UK from the Common Fisheries Policy, including revoking technical measures
- The establishment of an effective fishery policing and protection force.
- What are the challenges and opportunities that UK fisheries will face after the UK leaves the European Union, Common Fisheries Policy and London Fisheries Convention?
- To reclaim the 70% of fish caught by EU vessels in British waters.
- The chance to rebuild a sustainable fishing industry
- Create a huge boost to deprived coastal communities in order to create skilled jobs, training of future generations and ultimately, wealth.
- To create an effective equilibrium between sustainability, the ecosystem, and the commercial fishing industry
- What stock management objectives should the Government establish in order to achieve the right balance between the interests of seafood consumers, fishers, seafood processors and the environment?
- The Government should create a governing body that works between the policy makers, all parts of the fishing industry and scientists to create a balance where fish stocks are kept at sustainable levels, while at the same time exploited to the UK’s benefit.
- What trade policy objectives should the Government establish in order to achieve the right balance between the interests of consumers, fishers, seafood processors, and the environment?
- The Government should look to establish trade links for seafood throughout the global community, rather than just with the European Union.
- How effective are the Government's arrangements for representing the interests of the UK's constituent nations within the UK's negotiations for fisheries?
- The Government should look to consult all devolved powers within the UK, to represent the views of all aspects of the fishing industry and to achieve the best possible outcome for our diverse fisheries.