Fishing: Funding and an Uncertain Future

Coastal and island communities around Scotland have been awarded financial help in the latest round of funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). One of the many sources of funding the UK will be leaving when Brexit takes place –  at the time of writing this – on 29th of March 2019.

The awards are Scotland wide including: – Aberdeenshire, Alness, Argyll, Ayrshire, Banff, Buckie,Caithness, Clydebank, Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh, Fraserburgh, Kyle, Larkhall,  Lewis, Moffat, Orkney  Perthshire, Shetland, Skye and Uddingston.

The awards cover everything from help to individual fishers to area-wide projects.

Stromness harbour

Orkney Marine Environment Project

Orkney has been awarded £119,365.47 for the Orkney Marine Environment Project. Orkney Islands Council state that :

“The aim of the Orkney Marine Environment Project is to improve the availability and accessibility of environmental, social and economic data for marine planning, management, education and awareness raising. It will deliver a ‘state of the environment’ assessment of the seas around the islands out to 12 nautical miles.”

Graham Sinclair, Chair of OIC’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said:

“I welcome the award of funding for this important project.

“It will provide a firm foundation for the sustainable management of Orkney’s marine and coastal resources, establishing a baseline against which future marine planning and management can be monitored and evaluated.”

The EMFF is a fund which supports both the sea fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the industry. It also aims to help “ to deliver economic benefits during the transition phase of the Common Fisheries Policy reform programme.”

Future of Fishing (and Aquaculture)

When the UK leaves the EU we will no longer be in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and no longer eligible for this funding.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal the UK Government has issued the following advice:

How to Prepare if the UK Leaves the EU with No Deal: Fishing

Also going through the UK Parliament is a new fisheries Bill which will significantly reform the fishing industry. Seizing Opportunities: The UK Fisheries Bill

By clicking on the link you can follow the progress of the Fisheries Bill through the UK Parliament. Currently it is going through the committee stages of the House of Commons.

80% of UK fishers are in boats of under 10m and great concern is now being expressed that their voices have not been heard. Fishing after Brexit: voices from the coast This concern was reiterated at the House of Commons committee meeting on 4th of December 2018.

Jerry Percy of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association told the committee:

“the whole business of hundreds, if not well over 1,000, boats around the west coast  [Scotland]especially, and the east coast of Scotland to some extent, as well as Wales and the rest of the UK, is based on seamless transport across the channel to our markets in France and Spain. Their main concern, of course, is that if any issues come up in a post-Brexit scenario where we seek to take back control, not only will we get tariffs, which will make a big difference, but what is more, there will be non-tariff barriers in terms of the requirement for veterinary inspections of live shellfish. At the moment, the only two ports with those facilities are Dunkirk and Rotterdam, neither of which we use and neither of which, effectively, is a Channel port. To date, the French have not exactly been quick off the mark in building new facilities in time for next year.

“We are equally concerned about the fact that French fishermen, like French farmers, are renowned for taking very direct action should they feel that something has upset them. You will remember that when the French farmers got upset about some aspect of Welsh lamb exports, they actually burned the lorries as they came off the ferry in France. We are very concerned that if we do have an independent coastal state, and so on and so forth, it would kill that transport overnight. We only need a few hours’ delay for it to make all the difference in the world.”

Fishing is a devolved issue in so much that its management is the responsibility of the Scottish Government. The UK Government negotiates the Common Fisheries Policy, fishing quota etc, with the other nations of the EU and then this is managed by Scotland. The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted to retain powers over fishing after Brexit in the Continuity Bill, however, the UK Government is challenging this in the Supreme Court.

“On 17 April 2018, the UK Government’s Law Officers, the Attorney General and the Advocate General for Scotland, referred EU exit legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament (The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill) to the Supreme Court. The Law Officers are asking the Supreme Court for a ruling on whether this legislation is within devolved legislative powers.Supreme Court Case

In the most recent episode in this saga where the future of the fishing industry and many of our island and coastal communities are at stake, Fergus Ewing Fisheries Secretary in the Scottish Government has requested a number of amendments to the UK Fisheries Bill.

In particular he cites clause 18 which is about quota – and who decides it. Fergus Ewing’s letter states:

“I would ask that an amendment be made to Clause 18 to provide that any decisions made under Clause 18, insofar as they relate to Scotland, should only be taken with the consent of the Scottish Ministers.”

“I also continue to believe that…this Bill should be used as a vehicle for the UK Government to honour promises made during the EU referendum campaign regarding future funding – that all lost funding would be at least replaced so as to ensure there is “no detriment” to the Devolved Administrations.”

A further amendment from Fergus Ewing would require the existing funding which is delivered to Scotland through the EMFF to continue “ in the year prior to Exit Day“.

Fishing ( and aquaculture ) is a very minor sector in the UK economy but for Scotland where the bulk of the waters are it is important.

map of international boundaries

Map of international boundaries by Andmoreagain0815

The sector produces quality food products which are exported chiefly to the EU but also to worldwide markets. It also sustains economic activity in coastal and island communities providing jobs and opportunities where they can be hard to come by.

The Brexit Deal produced by the UK Tory Government made it quite clear that any future single market type set up with the 27 EU nations would involve fishing and access to our waters. Taking Back Control?The Brexit Deal

Whatever the outcome of the  Brexit Deal/ No Deal scenario it has been made abundantly clear that fishing and the communities it supports are expendable to the UK Tory Government.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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