The UK Government’s Fisheries Bill, which creates the powers for the UK to operate as an independent coastal state and manage its fish stocks sustainably outside the EU is currently in process. The Bill, which was passed through House of Lords on July 1 and now faces the scrutiny of the House of Commons, ends current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in British waters.
If access to UK waters for foreign vessels is negotiated, Westminster says the Bill will also enable the Fisheries Administrations to ensure foreign vessels follow the same rules as British vessels.
MPs are set to debate the Fisheries Bill in a second reading in the House of Commons today.
But the SNP have threatened to vote against the Bill in an official boycott against the Tories and urged new Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and his five Westminster MPs to follow suit.
Deidre Brock MP, SNP Rural Affairs spokesperson, said: “For once, rather than blindly following Boris Johnson through the voting lobbies, it’s time the six Scottish Tory MPs stood up for Scotland and the world-renowned fishing industry.
Fergus Ewing made Scotland’s feelings clear on UK fisheries
The latest round of Brexit talks will take place next week
“This could well be their new leader’s biggest test to date.
“This Fisheries Bill was supposed to be a flagship piece of post-Brexit legislation from the UK Government – instead, it opens the door to devastating tariffs and fails to detail how crucial European Union funding will be replaced after Brexit.
“Quite simply, the UK Government is making promises they can’t keep.
“Successive Tory governments at Westminster have sold out Scotland’s world-class fishing industry for nearly half a century – and today’s Bill proves that nothing has changed.
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Scotland has previously called for an extension to the transition period
“On their first day back at Parliament, Douglas Ross and his fellow Scottish Tory MPs must rise to the challenge and stand up for their constituents – not their political masters in London.”
But hitting back at the SNP, Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader branded the SNP’s rhetoric on fishing as “pathetic.”
He said: “Despite all their empty words, the fact is they want to take Scotland back into the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
“They would rather bow down to Brussels than hand power back to fishermen and communities across Scotland.
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“The UK is becoming an independent coastal state and taking back control of our waters, while the SNP are desperate to sell out our fishermen at the first chance they get.
“Reports that SNP MPs will vote against this crucial legislation will be a bitter let-down and a slap in the face to Scotland’s fishing industry.”
Fergus Ewing MSP, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary said he had seen repeated requests from the Scottish Government to participate in international negotiations on fishing denied.
Mr Ewing warned the UK Government denying Holyrood in negotiations would be detrimental.
Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP discussed the matter at Holyrood
He added: “We have requested that we be fully involved, our officials have been to some extent.
“The risk is that unless they are to the fuller extent, that we would normally enjoy in the annual round of negotiations in Brussels and also the vital negotiations with Norway, Faroes and Iceland, then there is the risk that decisions are taken without Scotland’s position being fully set out, expanded and advocated, leading to a potential detriment to Scotland.”
“The failure of the UK government to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period is reckless and is creating unhelpful cliff edges on a host of policy matters including fisheries.
“However, we have been clear that as a responsible government, we will work on a four-nation basis so we are as prepared as we can be for the end of the transition period.”
The second debate will take place tomorrow
The Bill recently made its way through the House of Lords with Lord Gardiner making clear the legislation will give the UK an opportunity to develop a vibrant and sustainable fishing industry.
It will give the UK the power to strengthen protection of the marine environment, whilst providing a healthy and valuable food source to millions of people, he added.
The Government is now considering carefully the amendments made during the Bill’s passage in the House of Lords.
The latest round of Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union on future relations have made scant progress, with both sides accusing the other of posing unachievable demands.
Recent talks ended in a stalemate
As well as fishing quota’s which are a major factor, disagreements over state aid rules have so far thwarted a deal which the EU says must be in the making in time to be approved at an October 15-16 summit of the bloc’s 27 national leaders to enable ratification this year.
Beyond the biggest stumbling blocks, differences also linger in discussions on migration, security, dispute-settling mechanisms, human rights guarantees and other areas.
France’s foreign minister on Monday blamed the stalemate in Brexit talks on what he called Britain’s intransigent and unrealistic attitude.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a speech to European ambassadors: “The negotiations are not advancing because of an intransigent and, let’s be clear, unrealistic attitude of the United Kingdom.
Mr Le Drian, who was speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said the EU was as united as ever in reaching an ambitious Brexit deal, but the ball was in Britain’s court.
Fisheries Minister and North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis argued the Bill will give the UK “the opportunity to set a gold standard for sustainable fisheries and gives us the powers to protect our precious fish stocks while enabling our seafood sector to thrive”.