The UK withdraws from London Fisheries Convention
There has been widespread support from the UK fisheries industry and the Scottish Government for the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from a deal that allows foreign fishermen access to UK inshore waters.
In a surprise move, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, and UK fisheries minister, George Eustice, announced that Britain will leave the London Fisheries Convention in two years’ time. Since the deal was signed in 1964, vessels from six European countries have been allowed to fish between six and 12 miles from the coast. It is estimated that 10,000 tons of fish, worth £17 million, were caught by inshore vessels under the London Fisheries Convention in 2015.
The withdrawal is seen as the beginning of a much wider fisheries landscape that will be created when the UK leaves the European Union. Taking back full control of its fishing grounds could extend the limits up to 200 miles from the coast. The estimated catch that could be accessed is around 700,000 tons of fish worth £770 million.
Michael Gove commented: “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 a 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.”
The interests of recreational fishing have, so far, not been mentioned in any high-level negotiations concerning fishing and fishing policies. How they will be affected will depend on the influence of the lobbying by representative recreational and sportfishing groups.