Scottish fishermen have hit out at the suggestion the UK could extend the post-Brexit transition, saying it would “make no sense whatsoever” to remain under EU fishing quotas for up to another year.
At a summit in Brussels, the UK and EU discussed the possibility of extending the 21-month transition period, during which single market and customs union rules will continue to apply.
Brussels has suggested an extension of up to a year in order to provide enough time to negotiate the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, and in a bid to break the deadlock over the Irish border.
Downing Street insists this would only be for a matter of months, and would never come into effect because both issues can be dealt with in the existing timescales.
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A year-long extension would potentially see the UK remain bound by quotas and restrictions within the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), despite losing a seat at the table where those quotas are set on an annual basis from Brexit day.
That would mean three and a half years of CFP quotas where the UK would have no say.
A statement from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) said there was “genuine fear” that the UK could become entangled in fresh restrictions on its catches “for years to come”.
“We understand the logic for some of an extension to the implementation period, but for fishing it would make no sense whatsoever to force the industry to operate under the Common Fisheries Policy beyond 2020,” the SFF statement says.
“All the practical international processes for the UK to become an independent Coastal State, exercising its rights and responsibilities accordingly, are already in place.
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“Further postponement would erode if not endanger our emergence as one of the primary Coastal States in the North-East Atlantic.
“There is a genuine fear among fishermen that any extension to the UK’s time in the Brexit waiting room would be used by the EU to place conditions on the return of fish stocks that are rightfully ours via long-term agreements that would be difficult to disentangle in years to come.”
Scottish Conservative MPs, who have argued strongly for a swift exit from the CFP, have voiced their unhappiness at the prospect of a longer transition.
Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson said that in comparison, “no deal, which would give us immediate and total control of our waters and our money... is far more preferable”.