EU fishing boats will still be able to access British waters after Brexit, Michael Gove confirms

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 3 August 2017 in News

Danish media reports comments from Michael Gove, promising that Danish boats will still be able to catch fish in British waters after Brexit

Fish - image credit: PA

Michael Gove has confirmed that fishing boats from across the EU will still be able to access British waters after Brexit, according to reports from Danish media.

Speaking during a fact-finding trip to Denmark, Gove was reported as promising that Danish boats will still be able to catch fish in British waters after Brexit, despite having last month told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that foreign boats would be prohibited from fishing within six to 12 miles of the coast when the UK leaves the EU.

Both the SNP and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation questioned the remarks, with MSP Stewart Stevenson claiming the comments showed the Tories are “not being straight with people”.


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Neils Wichmann, Director of the Danish Fishermen’s Federation, who was at the meeting with Gove, told the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten: “Michael Gove indicated at the meeting that the Brits don’t have anything like the capacity to catch and process all the fish that are in British waters.

“Therefore, fishermen from Denmark and the other EU countries will still have access to British waters after Brexit, the minister explained.

“It is a logical statement, but it is nevertheless highly positive and a little surprising that this comes from a British cabinet minister so early in the negotiations process.”

Wichmann told Jyllands-Posten that he did not know if Gove meant foreign fishermen would keep 100 per cent or 50 per cent of current quotas.

He said: “Our opinion is that the current distribution of quotas should be retained, but in the meantime we are just happy that the minister is speaking so positively.”

A spokesperson for Defra said Brexit would allow the UK to grant fishing access for other countries “on our terms”, depending on economic and environmental factors.

Bertie Armstrong of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation said: "It is clear from our meetings with the government that control over our waters will be in our hands after Brexit.

"We will be out of the Common Fisheries Policy and we will decide who fishes where and for what. Our position is straightforward: we must have first call on quota."

Stevenson described the comments from Gove as “startling”, claiming “you cannot trust the Tories to stand up for rural Scotland’s interests”.

He said: “They might well be trying to keep voters and fishermen sweet at home with all sorts of promises – yet Michael Gove is jet-setting around Europe reassuring EU members that there’ll be nothing of the sort.

“The reports, if true, show the Tories are not being straight with people and will do and say anything in order to force through their disastrous, ill-conceived Brexit plans.

“Michael Gove must immediately make absolutely clear what the UK government’s real position on the future of fisheries is.

"He could start by confirming that devolved powers over fisheries will transfer to Scotland so that we can get on with developing our own management policies which put Scottish fishing interests offshore and onshore, first.

“It is simply too important an industry for too many of our communities, particularly in my constituency, for him to continue promising one thing in public at home whilst saying the complete opposite in private to international audiences.”

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