Scottish fishing communities who voted Tory in the 2017 general election in expectation of foreign boats being denied access to UK waters look set to be betrayed.
According to former SNP MP Angus Robertson, a leaked document shows the UK government is set to sign up to a common fisheries agreement with the EU that includes ‘access to waters and quota shares’.
The document includes the following: “Within the context of the overall economic partnership, establishment of a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares, to be in place in time to be used for determining fishing opportunities for the first year after the transition period.”
The agreement also binds the UK and EU to work cooperatively to ensure that fishing remains within sustainable levels, meaning the UK will not be allowed to set its own quotas exclusively.
The document requires the UK government to agree to the terms by July 1st 2020 in order for it to be fully implemented within the first year following the transition period. Any EU/UK trade deal is contingent on maintaining existing access to fish in UK waters and status quo on quota shares.
The document will be seen by many as another batrayal of Scottish fishermen who once again put their trust in a Conservative government. Ruth Davidson’s party campaign heavily on the issue of fishing during the 2017 general election.
The issue has also dominated BBC Scotland’s coverage of Brexit and been used by some reporters to attack independence.
What isn’t mentioned is the fact that Scottish Fishing was used as a bargaining chip by the Conservatives in the 1970s, who described the sector as “expendable”.
Secret papers, released in 2003, revealed how the Scottish fishing fleet was betrayed by the Edward Heath’s government to enable Britain to sign up to the controversial Common Fisheries Policy.
According to the papers, Heath’s officials estimated that up to half the fishermen in Scottish waters – then 4,000 men – could lose their jobs. However he decision was taken to go ahead with plans to sign up to the CFP because it was believed that the benefits to English and Welsh fishermen would outweigh the disadvantages in Scotland.