Michael Gove to unveil plan to 'take back control' of fisheries after Brexit

Proposals include annual statement setting out the current state of fish stocks "based on the latest scientific evidence"

Photo: Chris McAndrew/PDS

By Matt Foster

04 Jul 2018

Michael Gove will today spell out how Britain plans to "take back control" of its waters after leaving the European Union.

The environment secretary and leading Brexiteer will publish the Government's long-awaited fisheries white paper, and has promised it will present "a historic opportunity to do things better".

Under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, central limits are set on the numbers of fish that can be caught, with different quotas assigned to each country.


It is designed to prevent overfishing and allow fishermen from different EU member states to compete fairly.

But the UK government argues that British fishermen have long "received a poor deal that is based on fishing patterns from the 1970s". It says EU member states currently land around eight times as much fish in UK waters as British fishermen do in theirs.

Ahead of the plan's publication, Gove said: "Leaving the EU creates a sea of opportunity for our fishing industry. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities.

"We will be able to put in place our own systems, becoming a world leader in managing our resources while protecting the marine environment."

Earlier this year, Gove expressed his disappointment after it emerged that the UK will stay locked into the EU's fisheries policy until the end of the post-Brexit transition period in 2020.

But he urged fellow Brexiteers to keep their "eyes on the prize", and today's paper will set out plans to make Britain an "independent coastal state" from 2021 onwards.

Ministers said the new plan would include an end to the "wasteful discarding of fish" and demand that vessels fishing in British waters abide by the UK's "high sustainability standards".

The government is also promising an annual statement setting out the current state of fish stocks "based on the latest scientific evidence", with Westminster vowing to work with the devolved administrations on a recovery plan if stocks start to dip.

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