London, July 2 (IANS) As part of its withdrawal from the European Union, the British government announced on Sunday that it is to withdraw from a convention that since 1964 has allowed five other countries to fish in its waters.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed his government’s plan to quit the London Fisheries Convention (LFC), a reciprocal arrangement that for the past 53 years has permitted French, Belgian, German, Irish and Dutch fishing fleets access to British waters within six to 12 nautical miles off the UK coast.
The LFC, which was adopted before the UK joined the EU, sat alongside the EU Common Fisheries Policy that set fish quotas for each nation, according to the government statement cited by Efe news.
Gove said that Britain was “taking back control”.
“Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy. It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters,” Gove said.
He heralded the move as “an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union — one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.”
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation in the UK welcomed Gove’s announcement and signalled it would financially benefit the country’s fishing sector, which in 2015 was given an estimated value of 775 million pounds ($1.02 billion).
According to official figures, in 2015 the five LFC signatory nations caught around 10,000 tonnes of fish in UK waters, valued at 17 million pounds.
Greenpeace UK, however, warned that pulling out of the LFC would not benefit UK fisheries and argued that fundamental government reform was needed instead.
Ending Brussels-set fishing quotas in the UK was one of the principal arguments for the Leave campaign in the run-up to the referendum that bore the Brexit result in June 2016.