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Brexit negotiations between the UK and Brussels continue to stall over demands from EU fishermen for access to UK waters. Britain will leave the Common Fisheries Policy to become an independent coastal state and control its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which stretches up to 200 nautical miles into the North Atlantic.
According to an analysis by the Marine Management Organisation, in 2018 the 27 EU member states caught 13 percent of all its fish in UK waters in the North Atlantic – with France, Denmark and The Netherlands accounting for the most catches.
Barrie Deas, CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), has insisted a no deal outcome at the end of talks would disproportionately “hurt” the EU27 more than the UK.
The EU has maintained there will be no wider trade deal without an agreement on fishing, but Mr Deas points there are only around five member states who are “dependant” on UK waters – meaning the remaining 22 nations would not reap the benefits of a free trade deal with Britain.
Mr Deas told Express.co.uk: “In the case of no deal, the EU would face the same issues in negotiations for a stand-alone fisheries agreement in 2021.
“We recognise that access to the European market is going to change and want as frictionless trade with the EU as can be secured without surrendering sovereign rights on fisheries.
“The EU’s artificial linkage between trade and fisheries if acted upon would hurt EU member states as well as the UK, and only five member states have commercial fishing fleets dependent on access to fish in UK waters.
“A deal is available but it will require the EU to shift its position – especially on quota shares which currently work to the EU’s advantage and the UK’s disadvantage.”
The UK wants to hold annual talks using a system known as “zonal attachment”, which bases quotas on the percent of fish in each zone.
According to the Office for National Statistics, fishing was worth £784m to the UK economy in 2018.
A 2018 study by the Marine Management Organisation found France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish in UK waters, worth an estimated £171million.
Fleets from The Netherlands accounted for 177,000 tonnes, worth £92 million, while Denmark caught 237,000 tonnes, worth around £90 million.
Meanwhile, in the same year, UK vessels landed just 94,000 tonnes (£88m) from fishing in the waters of all other member states.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss gave an update on EU talks after sealing the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal with Japan – worth an estimated £15billion.
Ms Truss was confident a deal could be reached but insisted the UK would also be willing to walk away without an agreement on Australian-style terms.
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She said: “We’re in intense negotiations with the EU – we’ve made real progress.
“We’re making good progress on the negotiations.
“But if the EU aren’t prepared to do a deal that allows the UK to retain its sovereignty, then we will go to Australia style terms, and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.”
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