UK fishermen are determined to secure more sovereignty after they got their Brexit wish in January – but an expert claimed they may not get the independence they crave immediately.
The agreement opened up UK fishing grounds to European vessels, leaving many fishermen in this country aggrieved.
As trade talks continue, little progress has been made precisely because of fisheries.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has told Boris Johnson and David Frost that if the UK wants access to European markets, the country must open up its fisheries.
But even if the UK can withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy, one expert warned in 2018 that it could take 20 years to strip back Brussels’ legislation which currently dictates British fishing policy.
On top of this, the expert said that Whitehall has so little expertise in fisheries laws that it will take years to extract the sector from European rules.
According to iNews, Andrew Oliver said it is unlikely the industry will be free of European control before 2040 and that it “might never happen”.
He added that in the long-term it might be possible to wrestle back some of the quota and fishing rights taken by European fleets, notably the Dutch and the Spanish, but that it would probably cost billions of pounds in compensation.
He said: “I think it will take up to 20 years before we are completely divorced and have our own stand-alone statute book.
“What we may end up with may not look much different to what we started with. Thats not what the fishermen had in mind. I think they were ill-informed.
“At the same time as fishing regulations, the Government is negotiating eggs and cars and trees and every other manufacturing product – and finance and trade. Our civil service simply hasnt got the capacity or the experience to legislate.”
Referring to the EU referendum, and the so-called Battle of the Thames when Nigel Farage and fishermen confronted Bob Geldof and Remain campaigners, he added: “In many respects the fishing industry – I wouldnt say hijacked – but it was misled and misdirected in what it believed would come from Brexit.”
Many of the EU member states rely on UK waters for fishing.
Currently, much to the annoyance of British fishermen, the EU actually reaps more reward from British waters than the UK.
According to NAFC Marine Centre’s data, UK vessels land 32 percent of fish in its waters, while EU states combined take 43 percent.
Norway, which is not an EU member state, takes 21 percent.
This means there are many countries in the bloc where fishermen depend on British waters to allow their businesses to succeed, and therefore could not countenance a no deal scenario despite Mr Barnier’s defiance.
Between 2012-2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.
The Netherlands and Denmark both caught around £90million’s worth.
But the UK only gained £17million’s worth of landing from French waters in the same period.