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Michael Gove to unveil plan to 'take back control' of fisheries after Brexit

3 min read

Michael Gove will today spell out how Britain plans to "take back control" of its waters after leaving the European Union.

The Environment Secretary and leading Brexiteer will publish the Government's long-awaited fisheries white paper, and has promised it will present "a historic opportunity to do things better".

Under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, central limits are set on the numbers of fish that can be caught, with different quotas assigned to each country.

It is designed to prevent overfishing and allow fishermen from different EU member states to compete fairly.

But the UK Government argues that British fishermen have long "received a poor deal that is based on fishing patterns from the 1970s". It says EU member states currently land around eight times as much fish in UK waters as British fishermen do in theirs.

Ahead of the plan's publication, Mr Gove said: "Leaving the EU creates a sea of opportunity for our fishing industry. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities.

"We will be able to put in place our own systems, becoming a world leader in managing our resources while protecting the marine environment."

Earlier this year, Mr Gove expressed his disappointment after it emerged that the UK will stay locked into the EU's fisheries policy until the end of the post-Brexit transition period in 2020.

But he urged fellow Brexiteers to keep their "eyes on the prize", and today's paper will set out plans to make Britain an "independent coastal state" from 2021 onwards.

Ministers said the new plan would include an end to the "wasteful discarding of fish" and demand that vessels fishing in British waters abide by the UK's "high sustainability standards".

The Government is also promising an annual statement setting out the current state of fish stocks "based on the latest scientific evidence", with Westminster vowing to work with the devolved administrations on a recovery plan if stocks start to dip.


But the SNP took aim at Mr Gove ahead of the white paper's publication, warning that the plans could unfairly impact the fishing industry in Scotland and stray into policy devolved to Holyrood.

Scottish fisheries secretary Fergus Ewing said: "We have significant concerns as to whether some of the proposals, such as charging for fish caught in excess of quota, are viable if we are to prevent over-fishing and ensure sustainability."

Writing in The Times, however, Mr Gove insisted the new policy outlined in today's white paper would be a boon for Scotland.

"Economically, we know that our coastal communities have suffered more than many other parts of the country over the last two decades," he argued.

"The new fishing opportunities we can enjoy outside the CFP should, according to the Scottish government’s own analysis, create thousands of new jobs in Scotland alone."

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