During the referendum campaign, UKIP’s Nigel Farage led a few fishing boats up the Thames to protest against the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy while another leading Brexiter, ‘Mike the knife’ Gove blamed it for the destruction of his father’s business. Leave campaigners told fishermen that once we left Europe, foreigners could be excluded from British waters, and all their troubles would be over.
Sadly, it was just another broken Brexit promise. The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has warned that because the UK is so close to Europe, it will not be possible to shut out other nations in the way that Iceland, for example, has done.
Instead we will have to negotiate with our neighbours – a process that will almost certainly take years, with no guarantee that quotas will end up being any more generous than they are now, especially as they will still have to be tight enough to stop the suicidal overfishing the CFP was designed to prevent.
The only certain outcome of leaving the EU will be that fishermen will lose the subsidies they currently get from Europe.
As with so many things that were blamed on the EU, much of the discontent stirred up by the CFP was actually the result of a decision by the UK government - to allocate two-thirds of our quotas to just three big companies, freezing out many smaller fishermen.