Brussels and the UK have reached an agreement on fishing rights for species that are widespread between the waters on both sides, in a sign of improving bilateral relations before the wider Brexi talk next week.
The two sides announced the fisheries rights agreement on Wednesday night after months of repeatedly tumultuous negotiations over disputes over how to increase access to fisheries while also meeting the objectives of the nature.
The agreement sets catch limits for more than 70 different species of fish spread between EU and UK waters. Usually the agreement covers fishing rights for the remainder of 2021, with some catch limits for deep-sea species until 2022.
The negotiations are the first exercise by the two sides after Brexit to continue talks on fisheries as two independent coastal powers. Brussels has held similar annual talks with other neighbors, such as Norway, for decades.
Such talks are usually held before the start of the calendar year to reassure fishermen about the total amount of fish they will catch, but the EU-UK negotiations are coming up this year because the both sides are sealed only broader relationship deals in the future in the last days of 2020.
Fishermen operate under temporary arrangements, with access to each other’s waters already guaranteed by future relationship agreements.
Both sides are obliged by international law to negotiate how to best manage fish species that are widespread among their waters.
EU officials said the deal was balanced, as Brussels managed to limit UK efforts to shift quotas for haddock and other fish from more North Sea stocks to west coast waters. in Scotland – something Brussels fears could damage fish stocks. . Britain has ensured more flexibility for mackerel – a key priority.
Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, chief executive of the Danish Pelagic Producers Organization, said the thought-provoking agreement was positive as it hoped to open talks on other fisheries issues between the EU and the UK.
But he said some of the terms of the agreement were a further blow to his members after they had already endured cuts as part of the EU-UK agreement last year.
“There are a lot of things in the pipeline that need to be discussed and everything is far from over until bilateral talks are discussed,” he said. “But we’re not really happy that we were forced to give more quotas on top of the Brexit deal last year, because the UK was pushed to put quotas for sand eels and Norway to put them under scientific advice.”
He estimates that the pout and sand-eel quota deal will cost its members approximately 10,000 tonnes of fishing rights, given the fact that both stocks have proven to be sustainable.
Flashpoints in months of talks include the UK’s desire to ban all fishing in British waters that have become part of the Dogger Bank area in the North Sea, a move the UK says has implications for environmental conditions, but what will affect EU ships.
George Eustice, the secretary around the UK, acknowledged that the talks were “challenging”.
“Our aim throughout the fisheries negotiations is to protect the sustainability of our fish stocks and seek an agreement that respects our new status and works for the UK fishing industry,” he said.
Maximizing fishing rights for Scottish fishermen an important UK purpose in the talks.
Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs, said: “After months of uncertainty and turmoil as a result of Brexit, this deal will provide much easier fishing arrangements for 2021.
“However, the reality remains that Scotland was taken at our will from the single European market, which is seven times larger than the UK market, with all the economic devastation and damage suffered. “
Elaine Whyte of the Clyde Fishermen’s Association, which represents fishing interests on Scotland’s west coast, says the change in Scotland’s seawater quota as a result of the agreement seems to have displaced the area.
“We see almost all stocks of fin fish, a bar, moving west to east to meet the needs of more and more flocks,” Whyte said. “The change is clearly causing fishermen in the west coast community to be of great concern.”
The agreement did not resolve the dispute between France and the UK over French fishing rights in the Jersey sea. But EU officials hope the outcome of the talks will encourage more positive change in relations.
The British and French navies both sending ships to patrol the Jersey Sea last month after French complaints about conditions attached to fishing licenses cooked up in a stand-off.
EU Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic UK counterpart David Frost is due to meet on Wednesday next week for high-level Brexit meetings where currently the tension in fisheries is on the agenda.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU fisheries commissioner, said Wednesday’s agreement was positive “for the sustainable use of our marine resources”.
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