BREXIT: Will Boris Johnson stand up to EU over UK fisheries?

BREXIT: Will Boris Johnson stand up to EU over UK fisheries?

The UK's top Brexit negotiator David Frost has indicated that he will play hardball with the EU on every issue in what could be a victory for UK sovereignty - and fishermen. On the 17th February, Frost gave a major speech at ULB Brussels University in which he set out the British government’s plans for a UK-EU trade deal.

His words will give hope to many Brexiteers that Mr Johnson will not be kowtowing to EU rules and regulations in a post-Brexit world, but valuing the country’s new ability to make its own rules. 

The UK’s man in Brussels explained to European attendees that taking back control is the very point of Brexit, so it would not be sacrificed in any negotiations - fisheries or otherwise.

Frost said: “It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us – to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has.

“So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing. 

“This isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure – it is the point of the whole project." 

Currently, fishing is controlled by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which means fleets from every member state have full access to each other’s waters, apart from the first 12 nautical miles out from the coast. 

Each year, EU ministers gather to haggle over the volume of fish that can be caught from each stock, and, given the fact that parts of the British quota have long been sold off to boats elsewhere in the EU, currently around 60 percent of the fishing mass caught from British waters is caught by boats from overseas.

Outside the EU, as an “independent coastal state”, the UK would control what is known as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a vast territory stretching up to 200 nautical miles into the Atlantic Ocean.