A statement on Brexit from the Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation

Brexit Situation Statement

‘Seas Of Opportunity’. Only for the few.

Those who stand to gain most from exiting the EU are wringing their hands in delight at the prospect.
But let us consider those within Coastal Communities who stand to lose most; many with the real prospect of losing their markets and livelihoods. Scotland’s inshore fleet of small fishing boats supplies Europe with the finest shellfish – widely acknowledged to be the best in the world, sourced from the ‘best wee country in the world’. These inshore fishermen are facing a crisis never witnessed before. And the merchants that they supply are in utter despair at the difficulties that lie ahead.

Creel and Dive fishermen working these small boats are horrified that the interests of ‘the few’ owners of deep sea fishing vessels are being put above the interests of the many. Of Scotland’s 2089 fishing boats, 1539 of them are under 10 metres long – too small to go beyond the 12 Mile Limit that marks the edge of our inshore waters. They have little to gain and much to lose from Brexit. European boats are already excluded from our inshore waters, so there will be no new fishing opportunities for us after Brexit. Instead there will be tariffs on our shellfish products and the strong possibility of our fresh produce going bad in the lorry parks of Dover as they wait to access Europe – our main market.Shame on the quota barons for saying Brexit is a sea of opportunities..

Self interest and greed has been displayed in copious amounts with little or no regard to those that may suffer. The Tory party has shown no respect for the importance of self employed small boat fishermen within rural communities. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP ), many would argue, has saved fish stocks in the North Sea but it appears we are about to return to the madness that existed throughout the years preceding our joining of the Common Market.

Admittedly the CFP resulted in many Scottish fishermen facing decommissioning as fish stocks declined. We could in the not too distant future be facing more decommisioning in inshore waters if we leave the CFP. Due to the successive failings of UK and Scottish Governments to implement effective management of our seas, the Inshore waters are already largely devoid of commercially viable stocks of finfish – other than migratory Mackerel. Shellfish are now the main target species – and we are witnessing signs that before long they too could decline dramatically as has been witnessed in some areas. We do not need tariffs and lengthy customs barriers as well.

Scottish Ministers must appraise the impending situation and develop a way forward for the ‘Low Impact’ fishermen and their communities around the Scottish coastline.

Finally, we do not rely on imported labour to maintain margins of profit, (employing locally) as our ‘Live products’ achieve up to five times more value to Scotland PLC than trawled.

Alistair Sinclair,SCFF National coordinator

Scottish Creel Fisherman’s Federation                                                                                                                    Furnace, Inverary, Argyll, PA32 8XX                                                                                                                                     Tel. 01499 500644  Email. ats1@btopenworld.com