Brexit deal has 'smashed people's dreams' says fishing boss
The historic agreement was finally signed on Christmas Eve – just seven days before the transition period was due to expire with a no deal Brexit. Fishing rights was a major sticking point until the last minute and many UK industry figures feel Mr Johnson’s deal does not offer them the protection they had been promised.
We have a good Brexit agreement which preserves French fishing and we will be vigilant on its application
And France’s Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said the French would ensure the terms of the deal were strictly observed.
He told French fishermen’s leaders: “We have a good Brexit agreement which preserves French fishing and we will be vigilant on its application.
“We are preparing for the future now, after 2026.
“We are supporting the industry today.”
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Under the deal, 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in British waters will be transferred to the UK fishing fleet over the next five years.
This is known as the “adjustment period” and gives EU fleets time to get used to the new arrangements.
EU fishing quotas in UK waters will be reduced by 15 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent each year after that.
By 2026, it’s estimated that UK boats will have access to an extra £145m of fishing quota every year compared with last year when British vessels caught 502,000 tonnes of fish, worth around £850m, inside UK waters.
After the end of the adjustment period in June 2026, there will be annual talks to set the amount EU fishing boats can catch in UK waters.
At that point, the UK has the right to completely withdraw EU boats’ access to UK waters.
But the EU could then suspend access to its waters for UK boats or impose tariffs on fish exports from the UK to the EU.
Tariffs could even be extended to other goods but it would have to be in proportion to the economic impact of the fishing decision.
Mr Johnson has insisted the Brexit deal gave the UK the opportunity to take back control of its seas but UK Fisheries suggests the accord has offered little for distant-waters fishermen whose livelihoods are dependent on retaining access to waters outside Britain’s jurisdiction.
Spokesman Barney White-Spunner said: “The EU deal is done, but for distant-waters fishing it changes nothing.
“Without bilateral deals with Norway and others, there is no long-term viable distant-waters fishing industry in the UK from January 1.
“We are tired of asking: we demand that the Government acts now to save our industry.
“Will the government do the deals needed to keep our crews at work in 2021? Does it intend to?
“As of now we don’t know when, or even if, we will be able to put to fish off Norway, our main fishing ground for decades.”
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A UK Government spokesman said: “As an independent coastal state the UK has put in place new arrangements to further influence the management of near and distant fish stocks, to best serve the interests of the British fishing industry.
“The UK has secured a Fisheries Framework Agreement with Norway and the Faroe Islands, which provides the legal basis for annual negotiations on fishing opportunities and potential access to each other’s waters.
“Negotiations for fishing opportunities in 2021 will begin imminently.”
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