Brexit fish claims questioned

Brexit may not provide the boon to the UK’s fishing fleet that some Leave campaigners have claimed, an industry body has said.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said that although the UK’s exit from the European Union marks a seismic change for the fishing industry, what that change will mean in practice will be less easy to predict.

Pro-Leave campaigners made fishing a prominent issue during the referendum campaign with UKIP leader Nigel Farage leading a flotilla of fishing vessels up the Thames to protest at the EU’s quota system for fish and argue that UK fishermen’s prospects would be better served by taking back control of the country’s waters in a model similar to that of Iceland.

But while the NFFO said it was not hard to understand the strong anti-EU sentiments within the UK fishing industry it added that “the UK’s geo-political position means that it is not politically or legally possible just to ring-fence most of our fish resources in the way for example that Iceland can. The reality is that most of our stocks are shared with other countries to some degree or other”.

Citing commitments made by Fisheries Minister and Leave campaigner George Eustice on the UK’s quota shares and access arrangements, the NFFO said “there will now be heavy pressure on him to demonstrate that there was more to those promises than pre-referendum sweet talk”.

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