Scottish fishermen’s leaders have pressed home to the US administration the importance for the stability of the industry of a swift exit from the Common Fisheries Policy.
At a meeting with London-based diplomat Dena Brownlow, Bertie Armstrong and Ian Gatt, chief executive and president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, and Jimmy Buchan of the Scottish Seafood Association presented the case for the UK leaving the CFP at the end of March 2019.
“The only satisfactory way forward here is for the UK to get out on day one and under international law assume the status of a Coastal State,” said Mr Armstrong.
“This will leave the UK in a position to grant the EU whatever opportunity in terms of quota and access is appropriate via negotiations.
“Sticking to CFP rules during any transition or implementation period would be a disaster because in annual negotiations we would have no seat at a table dominated by EU states determined to continue to deprive us of our natural capital.
“All industries need stability for owners to be able to make business and investment decisions, and with the sea of opportunity that exists for fisheries outside the EU this would be an extremely retrograde step at the very moment we should be preparing for the future.”
Mr Armstrong added that the nine-month “bridge” between March and December 2019 that the industry has been pressing for simply deals with the practical issue of the mismatch in timings between setting quota for 2019 under the CFP and engaging in the Coastal States negotiations later that year.
“To follow any other course would be to throw a valuable card away, and demonstrate weakness and naivety wholly out of kilter with our status as a maritime nation.”