Widespread welcome to UK fish deal announcement

THE UK government’s decision to withdraw from a deal which allows foreign fishermen access to UK inshore waters has received widespread support including from the Scottish Government.
The Environment Secretary Michael Gove and UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice surprised many people yesterday by announcing that Britain plans to leave the London Fisheries Convention in two years time. Signed in 1964, it allows vessels from six European countries to fish between six and 12 miles from the coast. It will mainly affect Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany  and Holland.
It is estimated that  10,000 tons of fish, worth £17 million were caught by inshore vessels under the London Fisheries Convention in 2015.
It is seen as a prelude to  the much wider situation when the UK finally leaves the European Union allowing  the country to take back full control of fishing grounds up to 200 miles from the coast and involves 700,000 tons of fish worth £770-million.
Following yesterday’s announcement Scottish Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said he and his colleagues have been pressing for the move “for some time”.
Unsurprisingly, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Chief Executive Bertie Armstrong  also  expressed his support. He said: “This measure is warmly welcomed – access to our rich fishing grounds will become a matter for us on withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy.
Some Scottish skippers like Jimmy Buchan believes it will allow the UK to negotiate bi-lateral deals with country’s like Ireland whose fishermen are not happy about  the announcement.
“Leaving the London Convention as part of that sends a very strong additional message of commitment. Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, which looks after the interests of English, Welsh and Northern Irish fishermen, described the decision as “welcome news” and an important part of establishing the UK as an independent coastal state.
Michael Gove’s views on Europe and fishing are well known. The son of an Aberdeen fish merchant, he blames Europe for the demise of his father’s business several years ago. He said yesterday:  “Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy.
“It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters.
“This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.”