Fishing leaders: 'Overwhelming support' for UK controlling its seas

A fishing boat anchored as the sun rises
A fishing boat anchored as the sun rises
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Almost eight out of 10 people want the UK to quit Europe's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) immediately or soon after Brexit, a survey has suggested.

The research was carried out for the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), who said it showed "overwhelming public support" for the UK to resume control of the country's fishing grounds as close as possible to the date of Brexit, rather than at the end of a transition period.

A YouGov survey found 79% of those who expressed an opinion agreed with this, while 15% thought it would be better to wait until the end the two year transition, and 6% wanted to remain in the CFP.

Pollsters questioned 1,631 people over January 11 and 12 for the research, which also found 63% of Remain voters wanted fishing to revert to UK control immediately after Brexit or after a short bridging period.

More than three quarters (79%) of those expressing an opinion said the UK should have full control over how much fish can be caught in British waters, with 17% saying the country should continue to stick to EU rules on this, while 4% did not know.

The SFF published the results of the survey as talks continue with the UK Government to discuss the future of fishing post Brexit.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "It is clear that there is overwhelming public support for the UK to regain control of what is after all part of its natural capital - the fish stocks around our shores.

"It is pleasing that voters have also been persuaded that it makes sense for us to leave the CFP within the early stages of the transition period. Due to the nature of the annual international fisheries calendar, that is by December 2019.

"Whatever people may think about Brexit, there is broad agreement that for our fishing communities there is a Sea of Opportunity ahead and we should get on with making the most of it."

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "It is essential that powers over fishing return to the Scottish Parliament and not to Westminster - that is the basis of the existing devolution settlement and is something backed by a strong majority of Scottish public opinion.

"The proposed power grab by the UK Government over fishing and other devolved responsibilities is simply unacceptable."

"We also continue to be concerned that the UK Government seems intent on trading away our fishing rights in order to protect other sectors.

"The UK Government must urgently clarify how its position on the CFP - where, after Brexit, the UK could be obliged to apply the rules of the CFP, but has no influence over the policy, or formal role in quota setting negotiations - is advantageous to Scottish fishermen in any way, shape or form."