Brussels (Brussels Morning) The UK National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has slammed the British government for “selling out” fisheries to the EU in the trade deal closed after Brexit.
NFFO head Barrie Deas pointed out that the government broke the promises it made to the fishery sector before it went on to close the trade deal with the EU in late 2020, Reuters reported.
Regaining control over its fishing waters was one of the UK’s motivating factors for Brexit. Deas stressed that it was difficult to convey the fishing industry’s sudden “fall from grace.”
He recalled that fishermen had their concerns about the government ”selling out” the sector over the last years and how their fears had proved “both politically astute and prescient because that’s what’s happened.”
The government’s move had created problems for the sector, Deas said, but the coronavirus crisis had made it difficult to quantify the effects of the move. “In that sense, it’s a tale of woe, very far away from the sea of opportunity that some spoke about”, he observed.
Government insists otherwise
In fact, the government praised its fisheries deal with the EU, stressing that the UK would gradually start reaping the benefits by becoming an “independent coastal state”.
The UK agreed to gradually reduce the fishing rights of EU trawler fleets in British waters over a period of five years. Once the period of adjustment expires in 2026, the UK and the EU are to hold annual talks on the terms of access to British waters.
Deas called on the government to do more for the sector after the 2026 expiration date is reached.
“One of the big questions is what happens after 2026 and it’s clear that the EU is quietly confident that it has sufficient what it calls ‘dissuasive powers’ to prevent the UK from fully asserting its rights”, Deas asserted.