As a leading seafood restaurant in Blackpool, we here at the Stone Grill were naturally concerned about how the news from last Friday will affect our fishing industry and the quality and quantity of fish we get on our shores. As quotas have long been a point of contention for both sides of the debate, it was something we really wanted to know.
While still a member of the EU and under the Common Fisheries Policy, all fishing fleets from member countries have equal access to waters more than 12 nautical miles from the shores of a country. A series of complicated formulas sent from Brussels then dictated how much of each fish type a boat could catch.
While a great theory, the practicalities of these quotes saw many fisherman complain that they were given lower quotas than other countries. To add salt to the wound, claims were also made of countries fishing in waters they shouldn’t and fishing way over their quota.
What changes after Brexit?
Once we leave the EU, our fishermen will no longer be subject to the EU quotas. However, it won’t be open season for trawlers. A domestic quota system will have to be implemented and enforced to ensure fish stocks remain sustainable. Government will also have to enter negotiations with other countries to enable access to the same fishing areas we have now as EU members.
While fishermen are currently celebrating their ‘win’ those celebrations may be a little premature. Even when not a member of the EU, we will still have to work with Europe for the common good. This will include some kind of fishing quotas.
There are currently three options being mooted. Britain sets its own quotas regardless of the EU. Britain works with the EU to set sensible quotas or we establish local quotas with the countries in whose waters we fish. Each will still demand a quota system.
So what will happen to the availability of fish and the fish types available in our restaurants and stores? Nothing for now. The Stone Grill has checked with our supplier and nothing changes as yet. More will be known in the coming months as the situation plays out. As important as fishing is to the country, compared to bigger issues such as governments, prime ministers, the economy, trade and all those things that need to be resolved, fishing is quite a way down the list.
What you can be sure of is that the fishing lobby will be pushing hard for fairer quotas and a much more sensible system for our future.
In the meantime, if you’re fed up with watching the news about Brexit, have a night out in Blackpool. Book a table at The Stone Grill and forget about the world for a while. Let us look after you in style!