Tuesday, September 06, 2016

An empty catch?

Most Scottish fishermen voted in favor of Brexit arguing it would give them greater control over fishing rights. However, that may have been all wishful thinking.

Europe's largest white fish market is in Peterhead. Last year sales in Peterhead totalled some £180 million (215 million euros, $240 million). 2016 is on course to be even busier. Nevertheless, fishing here has been in decline for decades. An estimated 450 vessels fished out of the tight, granite-hewn port when the UK joined the EU in 1975, now that figure is around 100. Many in Peterhead blame the European Union for their industry's decline. Most Scottish fishermen supported Brexit. After decades of EU rule, they want much greater control over fishing. Trawlerman Jimmy Buchan has spent more than four decades fishing from Peterhead. During that time, he says, the Common Fisheries Policy has given foreign fleets unfettered access to Scottish waters, decimating the local fishing industry. For Buchan, Brexit "is a great opportunity we have long waited for."

But this will come at a price. Since 2007, Scotland's fishing industry has received £77 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Later this year, a £49 million redevelopment of Peterhead port will begin, partly funded by the European Union.

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