PETERHEAD (dpa-AFX) – After the first Brexit months, the British government gambled away its credit with the Scottish fishermen. “The government has made promises to the industry that it has not kept,” said Elspeth Macdonald, head of the Scottish Fisheries Association SFF, the German press agency. The fishermen felt abandoned. Many are disaffected and tired of politics. It is true that both London and the Scottish regional government quickly provided support. “But fishermen would rather go fishing than apply for financial aid,” Macdonald said.
In the Brexit dispute between the UK and the EU, fishing – although a small industry – was one of the biggest points of contention because of its emotional significance. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government had promised fishermen to regain sovereignty over British waters and to deter EU competitors.
Ultimately, it was agreed that the EU would gradually abandon 25 percent of its previous catch quota in British waters during a transition phase of five and a half years, based on the value of the fish. Should London later restrict access further, Brussels could respond with tariffs. Observers viewed the agreement as a major concession by London.
“The Brexit agreement fell far short of what the industry had hoped for,” said Macdonald. “2026 is very far away. And it is a very long period of time that the UK will have to live with a very bad solution.”
Due to new customs regulations and other obstacles since the UK left the EU customs union and the internal market, trade with the EU is still stalling. British fishing is concentrated in Scotland, with around one in three British fishing boats landing in the port of Peterhead on the north-east coast./bvi/DP/zb