THERE is powerful public support for the UK taking back control of its fishing grounds when the country leaves the EU in March 2019, or soon afterwards.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) found that 79 per cent of voters who expressed an opinion believe the country should exit the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) right away, or following a short bridging period to tie in with the annual round of coastal states negotiations.
Just 15 per cent said they thought the UK should only regain control of its waters at the end of a two-year transition period, and six per cent were in favour of remaining in the CFP.
Even among those who voted to remain in the EU referendum, 63 percent favoured an immediate exit for the fishing industry or leaving after a short bridging period.
The 79 per cent of voters who firmly believe the UK should control access to its own waters compares with just 17 per cent who think the country should continue to abide by EU rules.
The poll results come as senior SFF figures attend further talks with the UK government to discuss fishing post-Brexit.
The industry has been united in lobbying both the UK and Scottish governments for a fast exit from the CFP within nine months of Brexit in March 2019.
The industry is determined to ensure control of UK waters is restored, allowing UK and Scottish governments to negotiate access agreements with other coastal states in the requisite international meetings.
SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong (pictured) said: ‘It is clear that there is overwhelming public support for the UK to regain control of what is after all part of its natural capital – the fish stocks around our shores.
‘It is pleasing that voters have also been persuaded that it makes sense for us to leave the CFP within the early stages of the transition period. Due to the nature of the annual international fisheries calendar, that is by December 2019.
‘Whatever people may think about Brexit, there is broad agreement that for our fishing communities there is a sea of opportunity ahead and we should get on with making the most of it.’
The pollsters asked voters: Following Brexit, when do you think the UK should gain full control over its waters and fisheries resources?
Some 46 per cent favoured immediately after leaving the EU in March 2019 and 16 per cent said after a short bridging period but prior to the end of the two-year transition period.
Fewer than 12 per cent said at the end of the transition period, five per cent indicated that the UK should not reclaim full control and just under 22 per cent did not know.
When the ‘don’t knows’ were stripped out, the figures were 59 per cent, 20 per cent, 15 per cent and six per cent respectively.
The pollsters also asked: Following Brexit, do you think the UK should have full control over how much fish can be caught in UK waters or should continue keeping to rules set out by the EU?
Some 65 per cent favoured full control, while 14 per cent said the UK should stick to EU rules. Only three per cent said neither and 18 per cent did not know.
When the ‘don’t knows’ were removed, the figures were 79 per cent, 17 per cent and four per cent respectively.
The YouGov poll of 1,631 people was carried out on January 11 and 12.