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It is now clear that the “transition” would dig the UK into Brexit in name only. It is now unequivocal fact that the “Transition” means we will be trapped obeying all EU law including the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as some sort of vassal state.

The proposed “transition” is a grave constitutional concern and continuing locked into the CFP is existential threat to what is left of the British fishing industry and coastal communities.

The transition exposes the UK to two grave threats. Firstly, the EU could trap UK in protracted legal claims for ‘continuity of rights’ which would be created by signing up to re-obey all EU laws we had just left under Article 50 in a new transition treaty.

Secondly, regardless of whether we could be stuck in the CFP for more or less than 21months If we fail to break free from the CFP the EU will be free to implement policy changes to our detriment. We doubt the EU27 would feel charitable to their political prisoner who has no representation but abundant fishing waters.

The EU could use this time to enforce detrimental laws to cull what’s left of the UK fleet and claim ‘surplus’ the UK would no longer have the capacity to catch.

Re-obeying all EU law AFTER we leave and terminate our current membership under Article 50 means re-obeying the same EU laws will have to be underwritten by a new ‘transition’ treaty -

This could allow the EU to cite that as the rights acquired under the Acquis continue to apply with the UK having agreed to re-obey the entire Acquis after we terminate our current membership that the EU has ‘Continuity of Rights’ under international treaty law - the EU has stated this since its parliamentary briefing notes on Brexit in February 2016”.

As we will either not terminate the new ‘transition’ treaty nor have a clearly defined Article 50 get out clause where “the treaties cease to apply”, then Article 70 of the Vienna Convention says “unless the treaty otherwise provides…..the termination of a treaty does not affect any rights, obligations or legal situations created through the treaty”..

In addition to this Article 30 of the Vienna Convention provides that if a previous and latter treaty are not incompatible, and that the old treaty is not terminated then the rights of that treaty will still apply. 

We will have created a continuity of rights by adopting all EU law and then agreeing to obey it as per the terms of a transition treaty. The EU could then argue for this in protracted litigation that would bind us into the CFP and hamstring the UK for years to come”.                                                                                                                                                                                            

Existential Threat to the Fishing Industry

The ill-conceived EU quota system and discard ban is the existential threat. Rather than address the cause of discards – quotas, the EU has banned the symptoms – discards.

Now when a vessel exhausts its lowest quota it must cease fishing. ‘Choke species’ will see vessels tied up early and, according to official government statistics, 60% of the fleet will go bankrupt.  

If a sizeable portion of the UK fleet is lost international law under UNCLOS Article 62.2 which says;  ‘Where a coastal State does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall… give other States access to the ‘surplus’.”

Culling the UK fleet would allow the EU to claim the ‘surplus’ that Britain would no longer have the capacity to catch.

With the EU having the opportunity to claim “continuity of rights”, even if proved wrong they could drag out Britain being trapped in the CFP and its quota system and discard ban for enough time to fishing our fleet off.

 Once we have lost our industry there is no way back from this Catch 22– if we do not have the fleet we cannot catch the “surplus” and if we do not have the “surplus” we cannot maintain a fleet. With this we will also lose a generation and their skills which are irretrievable.

The UK political establishment of all hues would not be forgiven for betraying coastal communities a second time.

A transition destroys the opportunity of repatriating all Britain’s waters and resources worth between £6-8bn annually to national control. This would allow bespoke, environmentally fit-for-purpose UK policy that would benefit all fishermen to help rejuvenate our coastal communities.

As Minister Eustice promised we could rebalance the shares of resources where we, have the EU fleet catching 60% of the fish in our waters but receive only 25% of the Total Allowable Catches even though we have 50% of the waters.

This transition is the reverse of this, it threatens something exceptional that is within touching distance and what the public in constituencies across our land expect to see on this totemic and evocative issue.

The government and MPs must refuse the “transition” terms and back Michael Goves calls to entirely abrogate the CFP on 29th march 2019 or they will consign another British industry to museum and memory.

That Theresa May has known this all along means she, and her remain minded officials, are fully complicit in the embryonic stages of a second betrayal and sell out of Britain’s fishing industry.

Labour Leave shares a number of viewpoints from external commentators, both Leave and Remain, without necessarily endorsing any of the viewpoints therein.

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