Ministers were warned today not to 'betray' Britain’s fishermen
Fears were sparked by a suggestion that EU negotiators should aim to continue the hated Common Fisheries Policy quota system even after Britain leaves the European Union.
Leaked draft proposals from the European Parliament's fisheries committee suggested Britain should not be allowed to catch any more fish than now in waters shared with foreign vessels.
If Britain and the EU were to meet United Nations sustainable fishing commitments it was "difficult to see any alternative to the continued application of the CFP", continued the MEPs' draft.
They suggested Britain's post-Brexit freedom to sell to EU countries should be made conditional on continuing to let EU boats access UK waters.
EU ship-owners should also be allowed to continue managing boats under the British flag.
British fishermen say that lets foreign firms scoop up fish which is rightly theirs.
The European Parliament will publish setting out aims for the deal once Mrs May triggers talks
UK waters must return to UK control, regardless of what the EU want
One Dutch-owned trawler flying the UK flag is said to account for nearly a quarter of England's fish quota.
Official figures say EU vessels caught 683,000 tonnes of fish, worth £484million, in UK waters in 2015, while British vessels caught 111,000 tonnes, worth £114million, in other member states' seas.
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Mike Hookem says UK waters must return to UK control, regardless of what the EU wants
The UK Government has said that shows it is in both Britain's and the EU's interest "to reach a mutually beneficial deal" that works for their fishermen.
Pro-Brexit campaigner Alan Hastings, of Fishing For Leave, said ministers must ensure the "unfair, failing and environmentally disastrous CFP" properly ceases to apply once Britain leaves the EU, as stated by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which Mrs May will invoke to start talks.
The UK should then be free like countries such as Iceland to manage its own seas, while operating under international laws to preserve shared stocks.
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As ending EU boats' unfair access to UK waters would benefit British fishing by up to £6.3billion and 22,000 jobs Brussels would clearly try to play "hard ball" on the issue, he said.
But he feared getting out of the CFP will be harder if the Government includes it in the Great Repeal Bill which it plans to shift a mass of EU laws into UK law when we leave in two years' time, to give MPs at Westminster time to decide which to keep or scrap.
He thinks the EU could pounce on Britain's technical "readoption" of the CFP in that Bill – even though the stated intention would be to scrap it – to argue the UK should thus remain bound by it.
Failure fully to free Britain from the CFP would be a "betrayal" of Britain's coastal communities who had already been "sacrificed" 40 years ago as part of the price for the UK joining the EU, said Mr Hastings.
"If the Government adopts the CFP as it proposes with the Great 'Repeal' Bill, it will have deliberately squandered the chance of a clean slate and betrayed fishing twice in a generation.
"The Government must prove its resolve on Brexit by securing the national interests and not continuing a version of the CFP to appease the EU."
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UK Independence Party spokesman Mike Hookem said: "UK waters must return to UK control, regardless of what the EU want.
"In 1973, the Government sold out the fishing industry. This cannot be allowed to happen again.
"Anything less than getting back full control of our waters post-Brexit will be another utter betrayal of the fishing industry."
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Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said he understood why the EU would start talks with a "hard line" but the current system had to change.
Mr Deas said: "There is a huge imbalance in terms of other member states fishing in UK water.
"Around 85 per cent of the current catch of the Danish fleet is in UK waters and 80 per cent of the current catch of the fleet from Normandy.
"If we look at quota shares in Channel cod, the French have 84 per cent and Britain has nine per cent."