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Ian Hudghton (Greens/EFA) – Mr President, four decades of the CFP have been marked by failure, and the impact of that failure on attitudes towards the EU in our fishing communities should not be underestimated. Ironically, just as the CFP is moving, albeit slowly, towards a more regionalised and decentralised model, the UK is leaving the EU. Nonetheless, the provisional agreement on the North Sea does offer a potential improvement in the management of the EU’s North Sea fisheries. But this multiannual plan will inevitably become less important when the UK leaves the EU and when the majority of North Sea stocks become shared stocks within the terms of international law.
It is therefore imperative that meaningful progress is made in planning for post-Brexit fisheries management and therefore that the UK Government makes up its mind what its attitude will be in such negotiations. But ultimately, in my view, my hope is that Scotland will choose to become a normal independent nation again, able to set and pursue our own priorities and negotiations with our neighbours.
It may be useful to put some facts on record, and not for the first time. Some 20 years ago my predecessor as SNP MEP for the North East of Scotland, Allan Macartney, led in our Fisheries Committee a report calling for zonal management of fisheries. At that time the Commission and the Council, including the UK Government, failed to embrace the idea. Again, a little over 10 years ago at the previous CFP reform I voted against Parliament’s position at that time, because it did not go far enough in calling for decentralised management of fisheries and therefore more input for Scotland. Again that was not embraced by the Council, including the UK Government.
One of the principal reasons that the CFP has been a failure for Scotland and indeed for many other areas is because successive UK governments have helped to construct it that way.