I’ve seen some people on Twitter suggest that what the EU are doing when they insist on keeping access to UK waters is that the UK is trading banking for fishing, but that’s really not the case – it’s not about banking at all.
What happened was that Barnier recently met up with Danish fishermen – who catch almost 50% of their fish in UK waters – and he promised them the British fishing industry would lose access to the European market if EU fishermen lost access to UK fishing waters. According to The Guardian, he said the two things “are clearly linked: Our access to British waters and the British access to our market.”
Because so many of the fish caught in Scotland are sold in Europe, it’s clearly not in anybody’s interest to be able to catch more fish but not be allowed to sell them to their usual customers.
I reckon this would also be case after Scottish independence: If Scotland opted for EFTA in order to stay out of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFA), it’s quite likely the EU then wouldn’t make it easy to sell Scottish fish in the EU.
The best option for Scottish fishermen is for Scotland to become an independent country inside the EU – in that case, the Scottish Government would be included when the quotas get allocated, and I’m sure they’d do a much better job than the UK ministers (who very often never focused on this at all).
Scottish fishermen should perhaps also recognise how the EU are now doing a great job protecting their counterparts in Denmark – perhaps being outside the CFA suddenly doesn’t feel so attractive after all.