UK with­draws from Europe fish­ing deal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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

The govern­ment an­nounced on Sun­day it will trig­ger the two-year process of leav­ing the Lon­don Fish­eries Con­ven­tion, which al­lows ves­sels from France, Bel­gium, Germany, Ire­land and the Nether­lands to fish be­tween 11 and 22 kilo­me­ters off the UK coast­line.

The UK 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.

UK reg­u­la­tions gov­ern fish­ing in the zone be­tween 22 and 370 km from shore, giv­ing other mem­ber states the right to fish in UK 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 UK,” En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove said.

The UK 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 an ag­gres­sive move, al­though they ex­pected it.

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

“It is about en­sur­ing that fish­er­men use the right fish­ing gear, that fish­ing takes place at lev­els that main­tain sus­tain­able stocks and that we pioneer ways to mon­i­tor what is hap­pen­ing at sea in or­der to un­der­stand the im­pacts of fish­ing,” Stafford said.

“Leav­ing the EU means we could get these things right. But we will still need to co­op­er­ate with our neigh­bors, as fish do not rec­og­nize lines on a map.”

This is an his­toric first step to­wards build­ing a new do­mes­tic fish­ing pol­icy as we leave the Euro­pean Union.” Michael Gove, UK En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary es­ti­mated value of the fish caught in UK waters in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment

TIMO HARTIKAINEN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Is­rael’s Batuka Gi­lad Shab­tay and Sari Maeke­lae com­pete dur­ing the Wife Car­ry­ing World Championships in Sonka­jaervi, Fin­land, on Satur­day.

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