EU: Bocquet on ‘realignment mechanisms’ in fishing waters
The Prime Minister “completely capitulated” to the EU over fishing in the Brexit deal, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as experts warned that the bloc could open up a “Pandora’s box” if it decides to restrict exports of coronavirus vaccines. Brussels has been stumped by production issues and by extension a sluggish vaccine rollout among member states.
Europe now faces a third wave, with case numbers and deaths soaring.
It led European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the second time this year to threaten a ban on vaccines leaving for the UK – a warning that European leaders stopped short of fulfilling last week.
This was as Mr Johnson condemned the EU’s rhetoric, cautioning of the future repercussions such a blockade could have.
While the Prime Minister remained stoic in the face of the latest EU-UK crisis, those in the fishing industry remain dumbstruck by what Barrie Deas, Chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said was a “complete capitulation”.
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He told Express.co.uk that Mr Johnson and his team had “traded” fishing rights for access to the EU market, mirroring former Prime Minister Edward Heath’s failure.
Mr Deas said: “Boris Johnson promised the earth.
“Fishing reached a level of political priority just before Christmas that we’ve never really had before which is why it came as a surprise that we got so little.
“I think the realists of the industry thought there might be some compromise on the timing or the quota shares, that we might not get everything that we wanted in one go.
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Fishing news: Barrie Deas said the UK’s fishing woes began under Ted Heath in 1973
“But we never thought there would be such a complete capitulation, including allowing the continuation of the EU to fish in that six to 12 mile zone.
“In any other country in the world that zone is reserved for coastal fishermen.”
Mr Johnson promised his “oven ready” Brexit deal would revive UK fishing and allow the country to reclaim sovereignty of its waters.
Britain’s waters had been considered compromised since 1973 when Mr Heath signed the Treaty of Accession, taking the country into what was then the European Economic Community (EEC).
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He was later accused of misleading the public about what the details of membership meant for Britain’s fishing.
Things were furthered in 1982 when the United Nations introduced “exclusive economic zones” EEZ, which essentially gave the EEC one giant EEZ and therefore unfettered access to the UK’s waters.
Mr Johnson promised to rectify this, but when details of the Brexit deal were made clear, Mr Deas and his fishing colleagues were left open mouthed.
EU boats will continue to fish in UK waters for years to come, although UK fishing vessels will get a greater share of the fish from British waters.
EEZ: The UN’s 1982 EEZ rule essentially gave the EU – or EEC as it was known – one giant zone
There will be a shift in share phased in between 2021 and 2016, with Britain technically having the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.
However, after that, there will be annual negotiations with the EU to decide how the catch is shared, leaving open a door of opportunity for Brussels.
This is because the EU could suspend access to its waters for UK boats or even impose tariffs on fish exports from the UK to the EU.
Only last month, Brussels slapped an indefinite ban on UK live mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops to its member states.
UK politics: Deas commended the PM on the regulatory autonomy the UK will now have over its waters
Mr Deas lamented the fact that French fishing vessels are still allowed to capture 84 percent of cod in the Channel, with the UK privy to a meagre eight percent.
Although, he did commend Mr Johnson on the UK’s newfound regulatory autonomy over its waters.
He said: “The quota shares remain extremely distorted, but it can now control the rules under which all vessels fish.
“We’ll have to see, over time, how that pans out.”