Shocked at proposals to throw fisheries under a bus, the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) is asking the European Commission to honour the commitment made to the fishing sector in the mandate given to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Having invested more than four years in ensuring that fisheries remain at the very heart of the talks, EUFA chairman Gerard van Balsfoort said that all that work is now in serious jeopardy.
‘The shape of a deal, as currently stands would be a huge blow to the European seafood sector which is made up more than 18,000 fishermen and 3500 vessels with an annual turnover €20.7 billion. Our industry is literally and metaphorically on the brink and in spite of repeated promises made, we are in the throes of being sold down the river with the offer made to the United Kingdom by the European Commission. The more so when the fisheries negotiations with the UK are intended to start all over again after only six or seven years,’ said EUFA chairman Gerard van Balsfoort.
‘The one thing we wanted to avoid was a no-deal situation in the interests of all our fishermen but the deal which is now being proposed is every bit as bad. We are looking at vicious and unprecedented cuts on a wide range of stocks including our pelagic, shellfish and whitefish sectors.’
He said that the European Commission failing to stand up for its fishermen and honour its written agreement made during the arduous Brexit negotiations could spell the death knell for large parts of an industry which has contributed so much to coastal communities across nine EU states.
‘While our industry has faced down many serious challenges down through the years and has proven itself to be resilient, versatile and determined, this is a desperate slap in the face and potentially the single-biggest and most catastrophic setback of our time,’ he said.