Sea of opportunity – Shetland fishing industry positive on post-Brexit future

The fishing industry has a wonderful opportunity in the post-Brexit landscape with catching opportunities worth hundreds of millions of pounds at stake if the UK should regain control of its 200-mile exclusive economic zone, according to Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins.

He says the industry has got off to a flying start in making the case for UK fisheries with ministers in both Westminster and Holyrood and has had a very positive reception.


Simon Collins
Simon Collins

Mr Collins is part of a Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Scottish Fish Producer Organisation delegation which has been “working extremely hard” on the implications of leaving Europe for the fishing industry. “We will be doing little else for the next few years,” said Mr Collins.


He added: “We have a united Scottish industry behind us. This is all we have been doing since the referendum. We have to keep the pressure on the Scottish and UK governments and so far we have had a positive response.

“We are very focused and throwing a lot of resources at this.”

He said that doors had been open to the industry and ministers were “very keen” to hear what was being said.

According to Mr Collins, under UN law, the allocation of resources within the 200-mile limit is entirely within the jurisdiction of national governments. Once the Common Fisheries Policy ceases to apply to UK waters, this means a huge tonnage of fish can be reallocated to the UK fleet.

He said that industry lawyers were examining the track records established by vessels in the zone prior to its establishment in the 1980s.

But if the UK government wants to take a strong stance in the Brexit negotiations and acknowledge the importance of fishing to Shetland and Scotland then it will repatriate fish stocks.

Mr Collins added: “If the UK government has a will to stand firm and assert its rights to its own waters, there is very little can stop them and therein lies the opportunity.”

• More, including Fishing For Leave’s renewed campaign, in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • John Tulloch

    • September 20th, 2016 17:06

    Change of heart at Shetland Fishermen’s Association?

    “So rather than dismiss Europe, we need to get in there and convince them that there are other ways of doing things……..” (SFA Chairman, Leslie Tait MBE)

    I doot WIr Shetland is been right aboot da EU an da fishin’, eftir aa’?

    A positive response from the Scottish government? Last I heard was Nicola Sturgeon wants to keep Scotland in the EU and give the fishing back to them?

  • David Spence

    • September 20th, 2016 20:40

    I am intrigued as to what gives the UK the right to claim upto 200 miles off its coast as their fishing grounds? As far as I am aware, the limit is 12 miles, anything after this is either EU or International waters (and correct me if I am wrong)?

    I do not wish to sound pessimistic, but if the approach to the fishing is based on the ‘ quick buck mentality ‘ then it is doomed to fail, and fishing stocks will be depleted within a few years. Will the UK/Scotland introduce quota’s on the UK Fishing Fleet or will it be the usual ‘ Get it while you can and screw the long term consequences ‘ attitude?

    Is the UK/Scottish Government going to spend millions on policing the so-called ‘ British Fishing Grounds ‘ or should we charge the fishing fleet in making sure these grounds are free from other countries economic interests ?

    Should we take a leaf out in the way Norway, is dealing with the fishing, and to also impose very heavy fines if such rules are breached?

    • Gordon Harmer

      • September 21st, 2016 9:04

      David, does this mean that Iceland’s 200 mile limit is illegal then?

    • Wayne Conroy

      • September 21st, 2016 9:14

      I believe you are referring to “territorial waters” which indeed does stretch to 12 nautical miles. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives exclusive economic zone (eez) rights to 200nmi for exploration and marine resources including energy production.

      As for your statement regarding the approach to fishing being based on the ‘quick buck mentality’ and being doomed to fail and fishing stocks being depleted within a few years… Im pretty sure most fishermen would find this rather offensive! Do you also think farmers send all their sheep to slaughter and say “screw the long term consequences”? Why would fishermen be any different?

      Local fishermen were managing fish stocks long before the EU set quotas and im sure that they will continue to do for future generations and im sure the government will continue to monitor stocks to ensure this.

    • Ali Inkster

      • September 21st, 2016 15:52

      12 nm is the territorial limit but 200nm or the median line with neighbouring countries is the EEZ (exclusive economic zone). These limits are described in UNCLOS. the terms of which have been exhaustively pored over on these pages. If you wish to know more look it up.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • November 23rd, 2016 20:41

        Some countries have also successfully applied to the UK to have their EEZ extended beyond the standard 200nm Mauritius, the Seychelles and others.
        If you look up the territorial claims of countries on the UN website you should find all the claims of all recognised countries, including disputed zones such as Kashmir, the Falklands, Cueta, Gibraltar…
        The UK get 200, or 50/50 split to our nearest neighbours in all directions.
        It would stand to reason that a successful move to gain autonomy or independence would mean that Shetland would inherit all relevant areas that the UK currently owns.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • November 23rd, 2016 20:42

        Damn autospell.
        Countries have applied to the UN not the UK.
        I changed that auto spell 5 times and it still changed it.

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