After having first made plain their disappointment at the deal reached by the UK government on fishing in its negotiations with the European Union, UK federations have had a breathing space to take stock of the situation.
‘In the wake of the agreement reached with the EU on Christmas eve, our immediate task was to blunt the Government’s attempts to present the outcome on fisheries as a famous victory’ an NFFO spokesman commented.
‘In Parliament and right across the media the country and the world, through the Federation’s efforts, was made to understand that, in echoes of 1973, the UK fishing industry had again been sacrificed for other national objectives. Given the hundreds of thousands of businesses and livelihoods at stake without a trade deal, perhaps this was a brutal, but inevitable, choice. What infuriated the fishing industry was the transparent attempt to present the meagre gains as a transformational leap forward as an independent coastal state.’
According to the NFFO, the UK and Norway henceforth meet as equal coastal states, while the UK remains tied into ‘an asymmetric and exploitative arrangement’ on fishing rights.
A series of immediate questions over how the new regime would operate from 1st January were raised at a meeting held by the UK’s national federations, with the question of how to avoid parts of the fleet being worse off in 2021 high on the agenda, in the wake of meagre and unevenly distributed uplifts in UK quota shares, the absence of an international quota swaps mechanism, the retention of the landing obligation in EU retained law and attendant choke risks.
‘There is scope within the EU agreement for quota transfers at state-to-state level throughout the year, but it will be important to make progress during the forthcoming negotiations for a fisheries agreement with the EU for 2021,’ The NFFO states.