As the prospect of a no deal Brexit , 29th of March, looms ever closer The Orkney News takes another look at Fisheries.
Fisheries is not an important sector for the UK but it is for Scotland and even more so for Orkney.
A Fisheries Bill is currently going through the UK Parliament. The Bill also includes the Aquaculture sector and is at the report stage prior to it going to Stage 3. As a member of the EU the UK adheres to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) but its management is devolved to the Scottish Government. The Fisheries Bill moves the industry post Brexit from the EU to be controlled instead by the UK Government. It will then be decided what areas can be managed by Scotland so long as what is done does not adversely affect the other nations of the UK.
The next round of Fisheries agreements has already been concluded which ties the industry into those for the coming year.
Leaving the Common Fisheries Policy
The CFP has been very unpopular in most of the fishing community and led to a successful campaign by Fishing for Leave. It was stressed that Brexit would open up a ‘sea of opportunity’ for the industry as the UK ‘took back control of its waters.’ It became a major issue in fishing constituencies in the UK General Election in 2017 and led to Tory MPs being elected in Scotland as they took the ‘Pledge’ to protect the industry.
The UK will become an Independent Coastal State. This does not mean you can do just what you like.
- the UK already has made agreements as a member of the EU with the other EU nations in addition to Norway and the other nations of the North about the quota that can be fished in her waters.
- as an independent coastal state the UK is still governed by UNCLOS – the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is an international agreement that the UK is signed up to.
- the Withdrawal Agreement which Theresa May is still trying to get MPs to agree to would see the UK remaining in the CFP for the transition period.
As well as working out quota and agreeing conservation strategies the EU also contributed considerable funding to coastal communities. This was an important source of finance injected into a vast array of different projects and infrastructure which enabled developments to take place and supported small scale fishers. The UK Parliament committee which scrutinised the Bill stated:
“The Government should clarify what funding will be available to coastal communities after EMFF funding ends in 2020, and how eligibility for funding would be assessed. “
In a post Brexit UK with all the calls for more money to be spent on the NHS it is to be wondered if the coastal and island communities of Scotland will figure at all in an allocation of resources which could in any way match what came from the EU.
What does The Fisheries Sector contribute to the Scottish economy? (Figures as at 2016)
Fishing: GVA £296million, Turnover £571million, Employment 4,800
Aquaculture: GVA £216million, Turnover £797million, Employment 2,300
Fish Processing: GVA £391million, Turnover £1,602million, Employment 7,600
Gross Value Added (GVA) – represents the amount that individual businesses, industries or sectors contribute to the economy. It is the value generated by any unit engaged in the production of goods and services less any intermediate inputs into the production process.
Turnover – defined as total sales and work done.
Between 2008 and 2016 the quantity of fish landed by Scottish registered vessels increased by 22% and the value of that catch increased by 24%. Aquaculture (fish farms) doubled its market value over that same period.
Access to Markets
Fish and sea food make up the majority of the Food exports from Scotland. In 2017 it increased by 23% and was worth £944million. Currently Scottish farmed salmon has EU protected named status estimated to more than double its value. The EU is by far the largest market for these products.
The EU is a single market – this means no tariffs are added to the goods and that they can be transported freely within the member states.
From 29th of March the UK will no longer be in the single market. If it is a no deal Brexit with no transition time products will have tariffs added and checks will take place where they enter rEU. This is a significant issue for any product that is transported fresh and/or live. Fishing vessels could get round this by landing at an EU port. Documents, however, would still be required and checks made on the fish. This would also have extremely serious consequences for the fish processing industry which employs 7,600 people in Scotland.
Getting the Fish to Market in the EU
Driving in the UK will remain unchanged. Any UK driver who wishes to take a vehicle into the EU or the EEA will need extra documentation after 29th of March. If there is No Deal UK drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP)
Eurotunnel advice – ” in the event of a no-deal outcome, UK citizens planning business or holiday in the EU after Brexit, or those who already have trips booked for after 29th March 2019, should be aware that the current free movement for British passport holders within the EU could end once the UK leaves the European Union.”
“The government recommends that for travel from the UK to an EU country after 29th March 2019, your passport should have at least six months validity remaining before expiry (therefore be no older than nine years and six months) on your day of travel to the EU.”
If we leave the EU without an agreement on 29 March 2019, UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU, in the same way that already applies for goods traded outside of the EU. Trading partners in the EU will also have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods received from the UK, in the same way that they do for goods received from outside of the EU.
In a No Deal scenario UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission. It also affects pilot licences and the inflight crew.
What about those who work on our vessels at sea?
At the moment all EU countries recognise the seafaring certificates of each other. If there is a no deal then certificates already granted will be acceptable until they expire. In the worst case scenario of a no deal, EU countries may chose not to recognise any new ones issued by the UK COC (Certificate of Competency) . This would mean that a UK trained seafarer would not be able to work on board vessels flagged with those EU countries. The Seafarer’s union, Nautilus is advising its members “who have endorsements on their CoCs from other EU member states, to renew those endorsements as soon as possible.”
Mark Dickinson,Nautilus general secretary, said:
“Brexit has already put UK seafarer certificates at risk and the ongoing uncertainty is forcing the hand of large businesses – it has created a perfect storm, threatening the current and future employment of UK-based workers.”
This warning comes as P & O announced the reflagging of all its short sea vessels to Cyprus and Maersk taking its remaining vessels off the UK Ship Register and exiting the UK Tonnage Tax. Maersk will also end the training of UK Cadets which will have a serious impact on seafarer jobs and the stability of the UK industry.
There are many other knock on effects of a No Deal Brexit on the Fisheries sector including imports required for the aquaculture sector.
And finally – Protection
When the UK becomes an independent coastal nation it will have to ensure that the sea of opportunity is protected.
Marine Scotland operates 3 protection vessels the Jura, the Hirta and the Minna and has access to five rigid-hulled inflatable boats on a daily basis.
The Fishery Protection Squadron of the Royal Navy patrols the fishery limits of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Squadron comprises 3 River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels in UK waters and one Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) stationed as the Falkland Isles Patrol Vessel. Three ships were due to be axed from the Fishery Protection Squadron but these will now be retained for the next 2 years.
The Welsh Government recently announced the building of two new vessels built and manufactured in Wales. It is replacing its ageing fisheries protection fleet with several new vessels.
Northern Ireland has the FPV Banrion Uladh and a fast response 8 metre RIB but relies on the Fishery Protection Squadron.
Brexit is less than 2 months away. Theresa May has an agreement that the UK Parliament has not agreed to.
Tick tock, tick tock – the time is very near approaching where the No Deal Scenario is the one the UK faces. For the Fisheries Industry – so important to Scotland’s coastal and island communities – Brexit might look very different from the one they were promised by the Brexiteers.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame