Brexit: Boris Johnson's fishing deal slammed by Mummery
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And Mike Park said the problems stemmed from the Government’s failure to stand up to Brussels adequately to defend the interests of UK fishermen. Mr Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), warned the terms of the deal signed in December were likely to result in a massive shortfall in key quotas for whitefish vessels which will see some businesses go under.
He told Fishing News in terms of key species such as cod, saithe, hake and “Norwegian others”, he had noticed a shortfall in value of £23million relative to Scottish producer organisations’ catches of such species last year.
He stressed it would not be possible to make up the deficit by increasing catches of different species like Nephrops, plaice and haddock.
Mr Park added: “Some will say you’ve got all those other species to catch and you’ve got additional quota for that, but these are species we were freely fishing on before, and the chances are we won’t be catching any more of them.
“The species that we do need, we don’t have enough of. To try to offset that loss in financial terms just doesn’t make sense.
“It’s a big gap to fill, and it can’t just be filled by fishing harder on other species, because you’re fishing harder for them anyway.
“Some vessels are going to find it difficult, and some businesses will fail.”
Mr Park was also pessimistic about the situation improving.
He explained: “I can’t see that the governments can transact in the same way the POs did.
“The POs had the knack of extracting every piece of fish out of the EU they wanted. There were some really imaginative deals that the government will not be able to facilitate because they do not have the expertise.”
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As for attitudes in Brussels, he said: “The Commission has made it clear they don’t want to do it, and will legally mandate the member states to deal with the UK in isolation.
“If the government were strong enough to stand back and operate the old system where the POs consulted and they mandated the deals, I would imagine things would get back to some semblance of normality.
“That said, it’s difficult to see how we can get back to that flow of quota that we’ve seen before.”
A number of vessels are really in survival mode
Looking to the future, he said: “A number of vessels are really in survival mode, and they probably won’t get enough to keep them going to the end of the year, so there is a view that consolidation of some kind will be required this year.
“Most businesses in Scotland, and I guess the rest of the UK, are family-owned – it’s a tradition – and if some of these families look around and realise they don’t have enough to exist, and then see other family businesses in the same position, they will look to consolidate.
“The question is, what can we do to facilitate the merging of family businesses?
“What sort of funding does it take, what mechanisms can we use to do that, to assist the industry to reshape itself?”
Despite Mr Johnson’s emphasis on taking back control, Mr Park was highly sceptical with respect to the fishing industry.
He said: “It seems to me that while we’re out of the EU, the EU still wants us to behave like a satellite state, and it would seem the UK hasn’t got the resolve to stand up for their own cause.
“While there are many things that it’s useful to have agreed so we don’t have to spend weeks and months this year going over the same thing, it does nevertheless mean that we have agreed to something less than we should have done.”
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