Scottish fishing industry bosses warn over ‘EU retribution’

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European leaders should not seek “retribution on the UK” over post-Brexit fishing arrangements, an association of fisherman in Scotland has warned.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) will publish its first ever annual State of the Industry Report on Sunday, with less than four months to go until the UK leaves the EU.

The document backs exiting the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and calls for the UK to be able to negotiate access and quota rights as an independent coastal state by the end of 2020.

Industry bosses in Scotland have said that it is not in the interests of the EU-27 to adopt “hardline positions” on talks over future agreements on fishing.

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “We are getting close to the point where Britain leaves the EU, and this will be the last December Fisheries Council that we attend before we begin the transition to coastal state in our own right.

“Sensible management of fish stocks is extremely difficult when you are facing the double whammy of an unworkable discard ban that takes little account of the mixed fishery in Scottish waters and therefore the issue of choke species and significant cuts to key stocks such as cod and haddock that will exacerbate this problem.

“If further evidence were required that the Common Fisheries Policy is a disastrous tool for fisheries management, this is it.

“But given that we have a fisheries agreement to negotiate, it would be utter folly for the EU to try to exact retribution on the UK by further punishing our hard-working fishermen instead of analysing the situation dispassionately and looking for a series of sensible, practical solutions to these problems.”

Last month, all 13 Scottish Conservative MPs – including Scottish Secretary David Mundell – warned Prime Minister Theresa May that anything less than leaving the CFP by 2020 would be a “betrayal of Scotland”.

They said that they could not support any deal with the EU that would “prevent the UK from independently negotiating access and quota shares” as this would mean “we would not be leaving the CFP in practice”.

Mrs May won a vote on no confidence in her leadership on Wednesday, with 200 of her MPs backing her and 117 against.

It followed the cancellation of a vote on her Brexit deal, which was not expected to have enough support to pass.

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