‘France don’t give away wine – but we give away fish!’ Fishing industry demand Hard Brexit

The UK’s catching sector is “ready to go” into a post-Brexit future on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, according to fishermen in the Shetland Islands. Hopes of a deal with Brussels were raised last week when European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker said he believed a revised deal with Boris Johnson was possible. But if the Prime Minister cannot agree upon a deal with Brussels a new law forces him to request a three-month extension to avoid a crash-out.

Simon Collins, executive officer of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said those he represents are “not impressed” by the Government’s handling of Brexit and any further delay to the UK’s exit from the bloc would not be welcomed on the islands.

Mr Collins said Shetlanders are sick and tired of watching foreign boats sail into their waters and leave loaded with fish due to “unfair quotas” set by European officials.

Mr Collins told Express.co.uk: “The UK sits in the most productive seas in the EU but we don’t reap the benefits.

“We do not know any other country in the EU which would give up so much of its own fish to put it into the common pot.

“France wouldn’t give away its wine but we give away our fish to Europe. It’s so bizarre.

“The CFP regulations are set in Brussels by bureaucrats who don’t have the faintest idea of what they’re talking about. 

“Countries around the EU have used the CFP to take advantage of our waters so coming out of the EU will give us scope.

“Fishermen are struggling to see why we are not allowed to catch our fair share of fish even though we have good waters.”

Mr Collins said Brexit would give Shetlanders the opportunity to dive into their country’s natural resources which he said the CFP prevents them from doing so.

He said islanders are particularly “outraged” by a deal the EU negotiated with the Faroe Islands which allows the semi-autonomous Danish territory to catch more mackerel in waters around Shetland than local fishermen.

And he said there is unease among fishermen when they watch powerful figures in Brussels discussing the size of fishing nets with little regard for how it will affect those on the ground.

“The commission struck a deal with the Faroese which allows more Faroese fishing than Shetlanders are entitled to.

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“This has caused outrage and we just have to put up with it.

“And if you take a species like North Sea Herring, 88 percent of that is in UK waters but our entitlement to that is around 15 percent.

“Not all the quotas are that extreme but it’s an example of how even if the fish is in our waters we don’t have the right to catch a fair share of it.

“After Brexit we will say to countries if you want to come in here to fish you have to ask permission and we are going to ask them to pay a price.”

Mr Collins said fishermen are angry when they see Dutch, Danish, French, German, Swedish and Belgian boats catching “a big chunk of what we have to offer”.

He said he appreciates the concerns of other industries across the UK who are wary of how a hard Brexit could impact them “but they must also understand enough is enough and we have put up with things too long”.

He expects Shetland’s fishing industry to thrive after Brexit and said youths are showing a keen interest in breaking into the sector, with training courses fully booked.

He dismissed the idea a three-month Brexit extension would be a positive move for the UK, saying by the end of January the EU’s annual fishing quotas will already by set and so Britain will be tied into the rules for another year.

“We have reached a point where our patience has run out and trust in our politicians has evaporated,” he added.

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