UK ful­fills key Brexit pledge

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Bri­tain said yesterday it is to with­draw from a 50-year-old agree­ment al­low­ing some foreign coun­tries to fish close to the UK coast­line, ful­fill­ing a key Brexit pledge. The deal pre-dates Bri­tain’s EU mem­ber­ship and would there­fore still have ap­plied af­ter the UK com­pletes its di­vorce with the bloc, ex­pected in March 2019. Bri­tain will trig­ger to­day a twoyear with­drawal pe­riod from the agree­ment, the Lon­don Fish­eries Con­ven­tion.

The con­ven­tion al­lows ves­sels from five Euro­pean coun­tries-Bel­gium, France, Germany, Ire­land and the Nether­lands—to fish within an area that is six miles off the UK’s coast­line. “Leav­ing the Lon­don Fish­eries Con­ven­tion is an im­por­tant mo­ment as we take back con­trol of our fish­ing pol­icy,” En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove said in a state­ment. The agree­ment is in force along­side the EU’s Com­mon Fish­eries Pol­icy-al­low­ing ves­sels from EU mem­ber states to fish be­tween 12 and 200 nau­ti­cal miles off the UKwhich Bri­tain will be ex­cluded from af­ter its exit from the bloc.

“This is an his­toric first step to­wards build­ing a new do­mes­tic fish­ing pol­icy as we leave the Euro­pean Union,” Gove said. “It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to de­cide who can ac­cess our waters.” Ac­cord­ing to govern­ment fig­ures, Bri­tish ves­sels caught 708,000 tons of fish in 2015, worth £775 mil­lion ($1 bil­lion, 894 mil­lion eu­ros).

Other mem­bers of the con­ven­tion landed an es­ti­mated 10,000 tons of fish in Bri­tish waters. Ire­land’s Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Michael Creed blasted the UK’s govern­ment de­ci­sion as “unwelcome and un­help­ful”. “Brexit poses very se­ri­ous chal­lenges to the seafood sec­tor and this an­nounce­ment will form part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he added. Fish­ing rights be­came a hot topic dur­ing the cam­paign for the June 2016 Brexit ref­er­en­dum, with Bri­tish fish­er­men voic­ing frus­tra­tion over EU fish­ing quo­tas. Lead­ing Brexit cam­paigner Nigel Farage even led a small flotilla of fish­er­men up the Thames a week be­fore the ref­er­en­dum, ar­gu­ing Bri­tain’s fish­ing in­dus­try was “lit­er­ally be­ing de­stroyed” as a re­sult of EU mem­ber­ship. —AFP

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