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Fishing vessel of ANAMER (Photo: courtesy CEPESCA)

The fisheries Brexit negotiation must exclude the privileges that the Common Fisheries Policy has granted to the UK since its inception

Thursday, October 29, 2020, 08:00 (GMT + 9)

  • The additional fishing quotas that the EU has historically allocated to the British have amounted to more than € 100 million annually in the last 10 years for Great Britain.
  • EUFA urges EU negotiators to take into account the increase in quotas for seven stocks in the future fisheries agreement with the UK

The European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA), of which the Spanish Fisheries Confederation, CEPESCA, is a part, affirms that the negotiation of the fishing Brexit must exclude the privileges that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has granted to the United Kingdom since its inception in 1983. According to the EUFA, the additional fishing quotas that the EU has historically assigned to the British - for species of interest to them - have amounted to more than 100 million euros per year in the last 10 years for the coffers of Great Britain. Therefore, they consider that in order to negotiate future allocation keys in a balanced agreement that guarantees a level playing field between the EU and the United Kingdom and lays the foundations for a solid future relationship, the starting point must be to eliminate these privileges.

According to EUFA President Gerard van Balsfoort, “the UK received these benefits as part of the EU and now that it is leaving it cannot take them with it. Therefore, the starting point of any negotiation must exclude them ”.

The two special treatments that were granted to the United Kingdom at the start of the Common Fisheries Policy in 1983 - ten years after it joined the EU - were the Hague Preferences1, an effective complement of 15.6% of the main UK fishing quotas, and compensation for Jurisdictional Losses2, which represent another 26% increase in the UK's share of key species fishing quotas for that country. Both preferential treatments granted to the United Kingdom have been paid for by the fleets of the rest of the member states.

In the scenario posed by Brexit, the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) considers that a new starting point should be established for the distribution of shared stocks and that the UK allocation be adjusted downwards to reflect historical catches, without the benefits established in the original PPC keys and still in use today.

The current fishing quota allocation key codifies fishing practices in waters that have historically been shared by European and British fishermen. Each country is assigned a part of the fish stocks that its fishermen have traditionally caught. This allocation key, known as “relative stability”, has been the foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), together with reciprocal access to each one's fishing grounds. Both elements of stability have contributed significantly to improving the sustainability of fish stocks and fisheries in Community waters.

The EUFA is committed to maintaining the current allocation of fishing rights based on traditional fishing patterns, incorporated into an agreement on reciprocal access to each other's fishing grounds and markets, as well as joint sustainable management of shared stocks.

As the Secretary General of Cepesca underlines, “we only ask that the post-Brexit distribution be calculated correctly in order to achieve a balanced, mutually beneficial and long-term agreement. The increase in fishing quotas for seven main species was granted to the UK by the EU and should end when the UK ceases to be a member state ”.

Political support from coastal communities

On the other hand, at the initiative of the president of the Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the coastal communities, coastal regions and fishermen from all over the European Union have sent a letter to Michel Barnier asking the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament to stand firm in its support and protection of the European sector and to work for a Brexit agreement that does justice to European fishermen, their communities and the people who depend on them.

In the words of Núñez Feijóo: “We send a strong signal to Michel Barnier that European coastal communities in Galicia and elsewhere support their fishermen, whose activity has shaped our ports and cities for centuries. It is also their future that the European Union must protect in these Brexit negotiations ”.

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