FISHING: Look at the positives

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Alan Campbell MP is very concerned that promises made during the EU referendum about Britain regaining control of UK waters and leaving the common fisheries policy have been broken because of a deal with Brussels.

According to Mr Campbell, control over quotas and stocks will remain with the EU long after any Brexit date and fishermen across the country will feel let down and angry.

If they are feeling let down and angry it is because of the predetermined quota system that has wrecked fishing communities in the first place. There is no evidence that Mr Campbell did anything to alleviate their concerns during that 45-year period.

His concern has a whiff of hypocrisy when he campaigned to stay in the EU and voted Remain.

Nobody denies that a key claim of the referendum campaign was that the UK would “take back control” of its waters after Brexit by exiting the common fisheries policy. Instead of being free from EU quotas at the end of March 2019, the industry will continue to be bound by EU rules for a further year.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the government had pressed for the UK to be an equal partner in fishing negotiations during the 21-month “implementation period”, but the EU blocked this.

Mr Campbell would like us to believe that these setbacks are due to broken promises by the Tory government when, in fact, it is because of EU intransigence.

Britain will be fully out of the common fisheries policy by the end of 2020, which is more than Labour has offered. After the transition, the UK government will decide who can access our waters and on what terms.

The EU is not the mighty, unified bloc advocates claim. There is no need for Britain to cower in the next phase of talks on trade. The UK is negotiating with a European Union that has profound problems and needs a deal.

There is a significant prize at the end of the implementation period.

For our coastal communities it’s an opportunity to revive economically, for our marine environment it is an opportunity to be managed sustainably, and it’s critical that all of us, in the interests of the whole nation, keep our eyes on that prize.

For Alan Campbell, a positive vision for the fishing industry would be a good start.

Jean McLaughlin

Tynemouth