Brussels and the UK have reached an agreement on fishing rights for orchids between their waters, in a sign of the progress in bilateral relations ahead. Brexis talk next week.
The two sides announced the fishing rights agreement on Wednesday night after months of negotiations entangled in a dispute over how to maximize fishing access while also meeting environmental goals.
The agreement sets catch limits for more than 70 different types of fish between EU and UK waters. The agreement mainly covers fishing rights for the remainder of 2021, with some catch limits for deep-sea species extending through 2022.
The talks are the two sides’ first post-Brexit exercise in holding fisheries talks as two independent coastal powers. Brussels has held similar annual talks with other neighbors, such as Norway, for decades.
Such negotiations are usually held before the start of the calendar year to give civilian fishermen certainty about the total volume of fish they can catch, but negotiations between the EU and the UK have been lengthy. to this year because the two sides have just signed broader future relationship agreement in the last days of 2020.
The fishermen have since operated under temporary arrangements, with mutual access to each other’s waters guaranteed by the future relationship agreement.
Under international law, the two sides are obligated to negotiate on how to properly manage the fish species that spread among their waters.
EU officials say the deal is balanced, with Brussels managing to limit the UK’s efforts to shift catch quotas for cod and other fish from the North Sea to be better stocked. to waters off Scotland ‘s west coast – something Brussels fears could damage fish stocks . Britain has ensured more flexibility for mackerel – a top priority.
Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, executive director of the Danish Pelagic Producers Organization, says the deal is positive in the sense that it hopes to bypass negotiations on other seafood issues between the EU and United Kingdom.
However, he said some of the deal’s provisions were an additional blow to his members after they had already suffered cuts as part of last year’s EU-UK deal.
“There are many things on the roadmap that need to be discussed and everything has been delayed until these bilateral discussions are resolved,” he said. “But we are very unhappy to be forced to give up more quotas than last year’s Brexit deal, because the UK pushed to set quotas for sand eels and Norway pouted under scientific advice. learn.”
He estimates that the agreement on quotas for sand goby and sand eel will cost his members about 10,000 tons of fishing rights, noting that both supplies have been certified as sustainable.
Highlights throughout the months of negotiations included the UK’s attempt to ban all fishing in British waters, which are part of the Dogger Bank area in the North Sea, a move the UK made The UK thinks it makes sense for environmental reasons, but it will greatly affect EU ships.
George Eustice, UK Environment Secretary, admitted that the negotiations were “challenging”.
“Our goal throughout these fisheries negotiations is to protect the sustainability of fish stocks and to seek an agreement that respects our new status and works for the UK fishing industry,” he said. Great Britain.
Maximize mining rights for Scottish fishermen was the UK’s core objective in the negotiations.
Mairi Gougeon, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, said: “After months of uncertainty and disruption as a result of Brexit, this agreement will provide greater clarity on fisheries arrangements for the year. 2021.
“However, the reality remains that Scotland has been excluded from the European single market, which is seven times larger than the UK market, with all the disruption and economic damage that entails.”
Elaine Whyte of the Clyde Fishermen’s Association, which represents fishing interests on Scotland’s west coast, says the quota change in Scottish waters due to the deal looks set to be detrimental to the region.
“We are seeing most schools of fin, bar one, flexing west to east to meet the requirements of larger fleets,” said Whyte. “This change is clearly a cause for concern among community fishermen on the West Coast.”
This agreement does not resolve a dispute between France and Great Britain over French fishing rights in the waters around Jersey. However, EU officials said they hoped the outcome of the talks would encourage a further positive change in relations.
British and French Navy both send ship to patrol the waters off Jersey last month after French complaints about the conditions attached to fishing permits brought them to a standstill.
EU Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic will meet his UK counterpart David Frost next Wednesday for high-level Brexit meetings, where recent tensions over fisheries will be on the agenda.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU’s fisheries commissioner, said Wednesday’s agreement was positive “for the sustainable use of our marine resources”.
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