It is not surprising that European Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella recently told a Tory MEP the Common Fisheries Policy is not negotiable. That is the default negotiating position and attitudes have hardened due to Teresa May’s intransigence.
However, the reality is that European Commission officials do now understand and are concerned that the “no discards” and “landing obligation” rules of the CFP will ruin many if not most trawlers working in multi-species fisheries such as the northern North Sea, if these regulations are fully implemented in 2019.
That predictable result would undermine another of the CFP rules, which says that fisheries should be managed to support sustainable economies in remote communities heavily dependent on fishing.
That is why the Shetland Fishermen’s Association and others were proposing workable alternatives, before the fantasy of clearing all the foreigners out of our waters gained credence in the EU referendum campaign a year ago.
That is also why the European Parliament, not Mr Vella, will insist on a revision of the CFP, whether the UK is in or out of the EU. That will be Scotland’s and Shetland’s opportunity.