U.K. to pull out of fish­ing deal that let oth­ers in its waters

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Bri­tain is pulling out of an agree­ment that per­mits fish­er­men from five other coun­tries to op­er­ate in U.K. waters, the first step in re­assert­ing con­trol over its fish­ing in­dus­try as it pre­pares to leave the Euro­pean Union.

The govern­ment an­nounced Sun­day it will trig­ger the twoyear process of leav­ing the Lon­don Fish­eries Con­ven­tion, which al­lows ves­sels from France, Bel­gium, Germany, Ireland and the Nether­lands to fish be­tween six and 12 nau­ti­cal miles off the U.K. coast­line.

Bri­tain signed the con­ven­tion be­fore it joined the EU and would be bound by its terms af­ter leav­ing the bloc un­less it starts to with­draw from the treaty now. EU reg­u­la­tions gov­ern fish­ing in the zone be­tween 12 nau­ti­cal miles and 200 nau­ti­cal miles from shore, giv­ing other mem­ber states the right to fish in U.K. ter­ri­to­rial waters as long as they com­ply with the bloc’s rules.

“This is an his­toric first step towards build­ing a new do­mes­tic fish­ing pol­icy as we leave the Euro­pean Union — one which leads to a more com­pet­i­tive, profitable and sus­tain­able in­dus­try for the whole of the U.K.,’’ En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove said.

Bri­tain had about 6,000 fish­ing boats in 2015, which landed 708,000 tons of fish worth about 775 million pounds ($1 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment. Ves­sels from other con­ven­tion mem­bers caught 10,000 tons of fish worth an es­ti­mated 17 million pounds.

Ir­ish fish­er­men called the de­ci­sion to pull out of the Lon­don Con­ven­tion an ag­gres­sive move, al­though they ex­pected it.

“The ac­cess for us is huge, but the ac­cess be­tween six and 12 is not our great­est pri­or­ity,’’ said Sean O’Donoghue, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Killy­begs Fish­er­men’s Or­ga­ni­za­tion, a large pro­duc­ers’ group based on Ireland’s west coast. “Our ac­cess is be­tween the 12-mile limit and 200-mile UK-wide limit. That one.’’

Ben Stafford, head of cam­paigns at WWF, said af­ter leav­ing the EU and the Lon­don Con­ven­tion, Bri­tain must con­tinue to fo­cus on pro­tect­ing its fish­eries be­cause fish­ing pol­icy is “about a lot more than which coun­try fishes where.’’ is the im­por­tant

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