Edi­tor’s let­ter

Safe­guard­ing our fish and fish­eries must be our pri­or­ity fol­low­ing the vote for Brexit, writes An­drew Fl­itcroft

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Editor's Letter -

WHETHER YOU were “in” or “out”, few of us could have pre­dicted the overnight dis­in­te­gra­tion of Bri­tish pol­i­tics fol­low­ing Brexit. As I write Jeremy Cor­byn is still hang­ing on to the Labour lead­er­ship by a light tip­pet while a host of other politi­cians have fled the scene. It’s a mess, isn’t it? I watched it all un­fold on TV while sat in a hut on the Kola penin­sula with some Rus­sian and Ger­man fish­ers. You couldn’t have made it up. But my thoughts soon turned to fish­ing and what in­flu­ence Brexit may have on our sport. What­ever you thought of our mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union (EU), there were sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits from an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive. The EU im­poses en­vi­ron­men­tal laws with tar­gets and thresh­olds that mem­ber states must hon­our. States that don’t play ball are held ac­count­able and sanc­tions or fines can be im­posed on those that fail to meet obli­ga­tions. I spoke to two im­por­tant rep­re­sen­ta­tives of an­glers’ in­ter­ests to get their per­spec­tives on Brexit: Mark Lloyd, boss of the An­gling Trust and Fish Le­gal, and first Paul Knight, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sal­mon & Trout Con­ser­va­tion (S&TC). Paul told me, “Fol­low­ing our suc­cess­ful 2014 com­plaint to Europe that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment was fail­ing the EU Habi­tats Di­rec­tive with its lack of wild sal­mon man­age­ment, the coastal nets were closed down this year. We have also just com­plained to Europe un­der the Marine Strat­egy Frame­work Di­rec­tive (MSFD) about the lack of ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tion over sea-lice man­age­ment in the Scot­tish sal­mon-farm­ing in­dus­try. So, these Euro­pean com­plaints are presently our ul­ti­mate weapons for in­flu­enc­ing gov­ern­ment ac­tion. It is all too easy for politi­cians op­er­at­ing un­der home leg­is­la­tion to cite over­rid­ing pub­lic in­ter­est as an ex­cuse for al­low­ing, say, a de­vel­op­ment that im­pacts lo­cal wild fish­eries habi­tat. It is only the fear of Euro­pean fines that seems to en­cour­age any mean­ing­ful ac­tion. “So, Brexit could be seen as a neg­a­tive for fish­eries pro­tec­tion. How­ever, there are po­ten­tial pos­i­tives. We must im­pose gen­uine en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions on farm­ers in re­turn for what­ever sub­sidy scheme takes the place of the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy, which has done pre­cious lit­tle to pro­tect the aquatic en­vi­ron­ment from sed­i­ment and other agri­cul­tural im­pact. If we re­main in the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area, the Gov­ern­ment will still have to abide by the Water Frame­work Di­rec­tive, which, de­spite its lim­i­ta­tions, will at least keep a fo­cus on our rivers and their ecol­ogy. “What­ever deal the UK does with the EU to ac­cess the Euro­pean mar­ket S&TC in­tends to work with other larger en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and use our col­lec­tive con­tacts in Europe to lobby for the in­clu­sion of the most strin­gent pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal obli­ga­tions on UK gov­ern­ments. Then the fresh­wa­ter fish­eries fall­out from Brexit will be min­imised” Mark Lloyd told me Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions could drag on for years. He said, “It is clear that the An­gling Trust and oth­ers are go­ing to have to fight hard for the best deal for fish and fish­ing. “If we are to re­main in the Sin­gle Mar­ket, which seems more likely than not, we are prob­a­bly go­ing to have to con­tinue to abide by many of its rules. “We will be press­ing for EU en­vi­ron­men­tal leg­is­la­tion such as the MSFD, Water Frame­work Di­rec­tive and Ur­ban Waste­water Treat­ment Di­rec­tive, all of which are al­ready writ­ten into UK law, to be main­tained and im­ple­mented in full to pro­tect fish, other aquatic species and habi­tats. It’s un­likely, in my view, that they will be re­pealed in the near fu­ture; we sim­ply don’t have enough civil ser­vants to write the leg­is­la­tion that would be re­quired to re­place them. “How­ever, in leav­ing the EU there is a risk these Di­rec­tives will slowly be wa­tered down over the years that fol­low and that the UK might not be sub­ject to re­vi­sions, in which case we will have to fight for new safe­guards to pro­tect rivers from pol­lu­tion, ab­strac­tion and hy­dropower. There may be an up­side to this in the form of op­por­tu­ni­ties for greater free­dom for fish­ery man­agers to con­trol preda­tors, but in the grand scheme of things these Di­rec­tives pro­tect more fish than preda­tors kill. “And it’s not just the Di­rec­tives that are im­por­tant as there’s also a host of Euro­pean Union reg­u­la­tions cov­er­ing im­por­tant is­sues like emis­sions and pol­lu­tion con­trol that need to be de­fended. If the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties Act is re­pealed, all of these will cease to ap­ply to the UK. “An­gling Trust and Fish Le­gal will be work­ing closely with the All Party Par­lia­men­tary An­gling Group, which in­cludes some very in­flu­en­tial MPS, to in­flu­ence the de­bate.” I can only echo Paul and Mark’s thoughts and rec­om­mend that you sup­port their or­gan­i­sa­tions in the on­go­ing fight to pro­tect our fish­eries.

“In leav­ing the EU there is a risk these Di­rec­tives will slowly be wa­tered down”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.