Fisheries Minister hits back at ‘soft Brexit’ fishing fears

Fisheries Minister hits back at ‘soft Brexit’ fishing fears

The Fisheries Minister has hit back at claims that some British waters could still be controlled or managed by the EU post-Brexit.

George Eustice, the responsible minister at DEFRA, told BrexitCentral that it was wrong for critics to suggest that the Conservative Party manifesto committed to sovereign control of waters just 12 miles out to sea.

Fishing for Leave, a pro-Brexit campaign group, claimed yesterday that ambiguous wording in the manifesto could render any of the commitments about reclaiming British waters as “worthless”.

The manifesto commits to maritime control “where we have historically exercised sovereign control” (emphasis added) which Fishing for Leave claim, if taken literally, would only include 12 miles of sovereign control.

The claim is based on the fact that the UK has never managed the full 200 miles of waters surrounding the British coastline because the UK was already a European Community member and bound by Common Fisheries Policy in 1976 when international fishing limits were extended to 200 miles.

UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has repeated the claim, saying the Tories’ manifesto pledge was “nothing more than a weasel-worded way of saying ‘we are going to shaft you’, just like Ted Heath did in the 1970s.”

But last night George Eustice tried to set the record straight, telling BrexitCentral:

“Fishing for Leave are shadowboxing and they are wrong. When we leave the EU we automatically regain control of the management of our Exclusive Economic Zone under international law.

“This means we will have full control over access arrangements and fisheries management out to 200 nautical miles or the median line.

“The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) becomes the new legal base line and we will become an independent coastal State.”

The Common Fisheries Policy was once described by Owen Paterson, the former DEFRA Secretary, as the “most incompetent” intervention the EU has ever made.