ClientEarth and 12 other signatories, including two former UK fisheries ministers and six academics, have challenged environment minister George Eustice over his claim that leaving the EU would be good for UK fisheries.
In a letter to The Times published on Friday 6 May, the authors said:
Whilst we commend George Eustice’s commitment to sustainability and improving the livelihood of fishers (“Why I have changed my mind”, May 2), we disagree with the Minister that the best way to achieve these aims is to leave the European Union.
While it is true that many small vessels in the UK are suffering from low quotas, the UK has the second largest allocation of quota in the EU and on the whole fishing profits in the UK are increasing and are higher than any other EU member state. The Minister fails to mention that it is entirely his responsibility to allocate more UK quota to small vessels over large.
The Minister suggests that outside of the EU the UK would take more quotas and other countries will agree to take less. That is not what the history of shared resources tells us, instead the result will be a tragedy of overfishing. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy represents the best solution to overfishing in Europe with many stocks already showing improvement. Leaving it would send us back to the drawing board and the likelihood is that the environment (and fishers’ livelihoods) would suffer during years of bureaucratic wrangling.
The letter was signed by ClientEarth fisheries lawyer Sandy Luk, UWE law professor Dr Thomas Appleby, former UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon, former fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw MP, New Economics Foundation head Aniol Esteban, Dr Rodney Forster and Mercedes Rosello of the University of Hull, Marine Conservation Society chief Sam Fanshawe, Beth O’Leary from the University of York, Greenpeace UK director John Sauven, fisheries ecologist Dr Bryce Stewart, Dr Tom Webb of the University of Sheffield, and Community of Arran Seabed Trust founder Howard Wood OBE.