British fishermen want to split with the EU over the Common Fisheries Policy
The EU policy, known as CFP, allows member states to fish in waters around Britain under the sharing programme – on the basis any fish which has passed through EU waters in its migration is fair game.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has released a report which claims rapid change is needed – change which Brexit may deliver.
Released under the Paragon Initiative the research is damning often impact the EU policy has had on the British industry.
It claims allowing so many countries to fish in one area means no one nation is responsible for sensible practices – which means areas are overfished and exploited.
British fishermen say there are fewer and fewer catches now
The report, edited by Richard Wellings, said: “The CFP has been particularly prone to political influence, with disastrous results.
“Landings into UK ports of the more valuable demersal fish such as cod have plummeted by around 80 per cent since 1970.
“The UK shares fishing grounds with other member states and has been allocated a relatively small share of EU quotas.”
The report ‘Sea Change’ also highlights a massive number of dead fish have been thrown back into the sea.
It said between 1990 and 2000, over 500,000 tonnes of fish were discarded annually just in the North Sea.
According to the authors of Sea Change Paul Dragos Aligica, H. Sterling Burnett, Birgir Runolfsson, Ion Sterpan and Rachel Tingle, change is necessary.
The report suggests areas shared by many countries, as is the model of the EU, is dangerous for the future of fishing.
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It said: “As St Thomas Aquinas put it, if land is not privately owned and everybody is responsible for it, nobody will take responsibility. Undefined or unenforced property rights are disastrous for environmental outcomes.”
In 2010 statistics were released which showed British catches have declined by 94 per cent over the last 118 years.
For more than four decades the EU has been working to create its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering 25 million square kilometres to make it the largest sea boundary in the world.
British fisherman said it massively impacted their stocks since nations like Spain, France and Italy are free to use British waters.
According to the most recent figures Spain currently takes in 21 per cent of the EU's gross tonnage while British fishermen take just 12 per cent.
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British fisherman have argued after Brexit they should be allowed to fish “their own fish” in British waters.
But it is feared the industry could take another blow if Theresa May rolls over on the issue – to keep the EU sweet and broker better deals in other areas.
Many nations are keen to keep fishing in the waters off the UK.
Leaving the EU will see Britain automatically leave the bloc's Common Fisheries Policy of quotas.
A rising global taste for fish has caused a “catastrophic” decline in some areas due to mismanagement, the report says.
It suggests private rights systems could be used to “ensure flourishing fisheries” – so each area has responsible owners.
British fishermen concerned for the future
In the case of the UK the report states there is a chance to save the fishing industry.
It states: “There needs to be an institutional framework so that the owners of fishing rights become enthusiastic conservationists, as has happened in countries such as Iceland.
“Brexit will enable the UK to withdraw from the CFP and adopt a more efficient approach within its large Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.
“This has the potential both to increase catches and eliminate subsidies from taxpayers.
“Policy options include facilitating community-based management in some coastal fisheries and introducing Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) for other areas.”