June Mummery slams ‘diabolical’ fishing deal with EU
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Industry leaders say they are financially worse off now despite Britain technically being an independent coastal nation. Their rants come after a shock report by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations claimed the industry is facing £300 million in losses by 2026. They said the opportunities of Brexit were “squandered” and suggested the Prime Minister had capitulated to the EU’s demands in order to net his prized trade pact.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said: “I think the litmus test is that this is a failure.
“As Gary’s analysis shows, we’re considerably worse off in 2021 than we were in 2020.”
Jane Sandell, CEO of UK Fisheries, said: “We were the poster child for Brexit and ultimately we got sold out.”
She added: “While the Government may claim that it has regained quota for a small handful of UK pelagic fishes, its actions in the aftermath of Brexit have been to the detriment of the vast majority of the UK fleet, as the NFFO report shows.”
The report, authored by former Government fishing negotiator Gary Taylor, warns the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement will deliver a £64 million-hit to the industry every year.
It suggests over £300 million will be lost by 2026 when the current fisheries arrangements with the EU come to an end.
Under the Brexit trade deal, Brussels agreed to hand back 25 percent of the value of fish caught in British waters over a five-and-half-year period.
After June 2026, the UK can slash EU catches further but eurocrats will be able to slap tariffs on fishing products or lock British boats out of the bloc.
Ms Sandell believes the Government can still win back the support of the fishing industry by improving the terms of its EU agreement.
She said: “All is not yet lost, but this is an industry that has been misled and is holed beneath the waterline. It is now time to act with urgency and commitment.
“By renegotiating real fish – not paper ones – with the EU, cutting red tape and reopening trade flows with our most important partners, we can throw a lifebuoy to the huge sections of the industry who desperately need it.
“And by urgently entering into serious talks with Norway, Greenland and the Faroes we can even at the eleventh our save a distant waters fleet, and the livelihoods of the men and women who are still hoping to fish in that fabled sea of opportunity.”
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The Government has published its own claims that the increase of fishing quotas would mean the industry netting an additional £148 million.
But the report sets out that there are a number of reasons why British fishermen are not benefiting from the uplift in catches.
Mr Deas said: “From reviewing these findings, the NFFO’s conclusion is that there are very few winners and a great many losers.
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“These figures suggest that the bulk of the UK fishing fleet is on a trajectory to incur losses amounting to £64million or more per year over the timeframe of this analysis, meaning that, unless changes are secured through international fisheries negotiations, the industry will have lost in excess of £300million by 2026.
“The best opportunity in a generation to revive the UK’s fishing industry and support our coastal communities has been squandered and we must act swiftly to learn from these lessons and support the sector in future negotiations.”
The report’s author Mr Taylor added: “I hope this report, which is rooted in my own decades of experience in fisheries talks, will shine a light on the current situation and help support the owners and crews of this vital sector in the negotiations that lie ahead.”
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