EU warned Brexit deal must end ‘exploitation’ of British fisheries ‘System is fixed!’

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European Union member states have refused to budge on their demands access to British fishing waters is maintained past the end of the Brexit transition period. Barrie Deas, chief executive of The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, claimed UK fishing communities want to strike a new deal as long as Brussels renounces the “fixed” system imposed on the UK when it first joined the bloc in the 1970s.

Speaking to TRT World, Mr Deas said: “I do accept that sustainability is everything. If you have a shrinking cake, there’s not much point arguing about the shares.

“So we need to ensure the stocks are fished at sustainable levels, these are shared stocks so we need shared management.

“But from our point of view, we have to move away from this asymmetric, exploitative arrangement that was fixed in the 1970s, reinforced in the 1983 Quota Share Agreements and has worked to the UK’s systematic disadvantage ever since.”

The fishing expert suggested both the UK and EU member states would face severe consequences in the event of a no-deal but insisted a deal is possible as long as Brussels accepts Britain’s independence from the bloc.

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Mr Deas continued: “I think everybody will be worse off with no-deal.

“A trade deal works for everybody, there are member states that are very vulnerable to a no-deal as well as the UK. It’s the EU that made the artificial linkage between trade and fisheries.

“My belief is there will be a deal but that deal has to recognise that things have changed. Under international law, the UK will be an independent coastal state.

“The political price for sacrificing the fishing industry again would be extremely high for them, they recognise it.”

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The future of fisheries has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in the talks between the UK and the EU.

The British Government has reiterated the UK is committed to taking back control of its fishing waters once the transition period ends in December 2020.

Despite both Lord Frost and Michel Barnier saying both sides are still working hard to ensure an agreement is struck, France has mounted fierce opposition to its vessels being barred from accessing British waters.

The chief of the fisheries committee in the European Parliament, Pierre Karleskind, accused the UK of having “claimed” its territorial waters without negotiating with EU member states.

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Mr Karlesking said: “For centuries European fishermen have been fishing in these waters full of fish.

“When the United Kingdom claimed its territorial waters, there was no negotiation since these waters were de-facto communitarised.

“European fleets other than the British have been fishing there for centuries.”

The claims were however rebuked by a Whitehall source, who told “There are many EU individuals who simply want the UK to budge and are making such comments which are not helpful during a difficult time.

“The UK has always respected international law when it comes to Fisheries.

“We want to secure a trade deal that respects UK sovereignty and it’s absolutely crucial we do just that.”

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