The UK could be in line for a post-Brexit fishing boom which would see the industry double in value to £1.6 billion - if political leaders show "backbone" during EU divorce talks.
New research published by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation today shows that the value of the fleet is poised for substantial growth when the UK leaves the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This allows open access for all UK waters for European boats.
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It means UK boats currently land about 36% of the total fish catch in their waters - with the rest landed by EU and Norwegian boats If this rose to 95%, like Iceland currently enjoys outside the EU, it would double in size . Today's research suggests the value of fish catches could rise from £815 million at the moment to about £1.67 billion outside the EU.
Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) chief executive Bertie Armstrong said he expected that the British fleet, two-thirds of which are Scottish boats, could gradually move to 85% of all fish catches, with the remainder landed by EU boats which would retain some access.
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But there have been fears that access to UK fishing waters could be negotiated away in order to secure other concessions on free trade as part of the Brexit talks.
"These figures highlight the Sea of Opportunity Brexit will yield for the industry," Mr Armstrong said today.
"Key to maximising the potential gain will be political backbone in the Brexit talks, and 100% resistance to any kind of messy trade-offs such as guaranteeing no-change access to EU vessels, or linkage of the trading of fish to access to UK waters."
He added: "We have never said that EU vessels will not be permitted to fish UK waters after Brexit, but the critical element here is that this will be negotiated in the correct international forums and be done so n our terms and no-one else's."