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27 Jul, 2016 15:40

Scottish fishermen support Brexit, shun Sturgeon’s call for independence

Fishermen in Scotland have come out in support of Brexit, predicting a “whole world of new possibilities” for the local industry when Britain leaves the European Union.

Workers in Scotland’s fishing sector have long complained about Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy, which establishes quotas for each member state. Scottish fishermen believe they have been squeezed out of business while other countries get bigger fishing allowances.

Fisherman Peter Willox of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, told RT he is “ecstatic” at the impending Brexit.

“It’s a whole world of new possibilities that has opened up. They say [we live in] little Britain but I never heard so much rubbish in all my days. It’s little Europe. We are looking at the big world.”

As Scotland is “top of the food chain, as fishing-water goes” the “share of the quota should go up,” he said.

“Because it’s our waters, it’s our fish and it’s our livelihoods.”

Employment in the Scottish fishing industry has dropped nearly 50 percent in the last four decades.

On Monday, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said Britain’s membership in the bloc had resulted in a “serious disadvantage for our fishing industry and coastal communities.”

Replying to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to Scottish industry in which she called for a new independence referendum to guarantee the nation’s EU membership, Armstrong said: “The Scottish fishing sector is delighted and full of hope that Brexit will restore to the UK the normal rights and responsibilities for fishing enjoyed by all coastal states in their own sea space.

“A glance at the history will illustrate why this is the right thing to do. It is no small thing and will rectify an initial bad mistake that evolved into a situation of serious disadvantage for our fishing industry and coastal communities.”

However, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF), leaving the EU will not change the much-maligned fishing quotas.

In a long statement on the consequences of Brexit for the fishing industries, the NEF argued: “Fishing quotas must continue even if UK fisheries are entirely separated from the EU. Quota management – or limits on the amount of fish that can be caught – have helped stocks recover to sustainable levels across the world and most stocks in EU waters are now growing.

“Our research has shown that quota limits set outside of the EU often exceed scientific advice by a greater amount than quotas set within the EU. Post-Brexit this is a real worry because nearly all UK fish stocks are shared with other EU members. Each additional quota the UK must now negotiate with the EU increases the chances of negotiations breaking down.”

British fishing communities are not the only ones to have complained about EU quotas over the years. Portuguese and Spanish fishermen associations have also argued the allowance given for local staple catches such as sardines or hake would “end fishing.”

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union in the June 23 referendum.