PM has sacrificed fishing to secure trade deal, say industry leaders

Newlyn Fishing Port Prepares For New Rules Post-Brexit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sacrificed the fishing industry in a drive to secure a trade deal with the EU, fishing organisations have said.

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said there will be "frustration and anger" across the industry about the outcome of the negotiations.

Sporting a fish-themed tie, Mr Johnson told the Government press conference: "For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters."

But Mr Deas told the PA news agency: "In the end it was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing."

He said: "The broad feeling is that the UK has made significant concessions on fish in order to secure a trade deal.

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UK and EU reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal
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UK and EU reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "PIPPA FOWLES / No10 DOWNING STREET / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls President of European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen via video link from the Cabinet room, in London, United Kingdom on December 24, 2020. (Photo by Pippa Fowles/No10 Downing Street/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "ANDREW PARSONS / No10 DOWNING STREET / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen via video link from the Cabinet room after completing the Brexit deal, in London, United Kingdom on December 24, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The media gathered outside 10 Downing Street, London, ahead of a briefing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prepares to address a media conference on Brexit negotiations at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on December 24, 2020. - Britain said on December 24, 2020, an agreement had been secured on the country's future relationship with the European Union, after last-gasp talks just days before a cliff-edge deadline. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANCISCO SECO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a media conference on Brexit negotiations at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
Larry the cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office catches a pigeon as journalists await results of the Brexit trade deal in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. European Union and British negotiators are closing in on a trade deal with only a disagreement over fishing remaining, After resolving a few remaining fair competition issues, negotiators were dealing with EU fisheries rights in U.K. waters Wednesday as they worked to secure a deal for a post-Brexit relationship after nine months of talks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Larry the cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office catches a pigeon as journalists await results of the Brexit trade deal in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. European Union and British negotiators are closing in on a trade deal with only a disagreement over fishing remaining, After resolving a few remaining fair competition issues, negotiators were dealing with EU fisheries rights in U.K. waters Wednesday as they worked to secure a deal for a post-Brexit relationship after nine months of talks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Journalists put their heads together in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year chaos for cross-border traders and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Journalists report in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year chaos for cross-border traders and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, and European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier address a media conference on Brexit negotiations at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
Police speak to anti-Brexit protestor Steve Bray, at the gates of Downing Street, London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Negotiators from the European Union and Britain worked through the night and into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avert a chaotic economic break between the two sides next week. Trade will change regardless come Jan. 1, when the U.K. leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
The media gathered outside 10 Downing Street, London, ahead of a briefing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
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"I think the industry will be extremely disappointed.

"We have secured increases in quota from the EU but they don't come anywhere close to what our entitlement is in international law.

"So I think there will be frustration and anger across the industry about that."

Mr Deas said he thought the failure to secure a 12-mile exclusion zone to protect inshore fisheries for at least five years is "going to be particularly contentious".

He said it was "understandable" that "the EU wanted to hold on to the advantages it has held for 40 years".

The Prime Minister told the press conference that the UK's share of fish in home waters will rise "substantially" from roughly half to closer to two-thirds in five-and-a-half years' time "after which there is no theoretical limits beyond those placed by science or conservation on the quantity of our own fish that we can fish in our waters".

Mr Johnson accepted that the UK had given ground on access to fishing waters, saying that the EU began wanting a transition period of 14 years while the UK wanted three years.

The Prime Minister said the five-year transition was a key compromise.

He said: "I think that was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish."

The seafood sector said it was relieved a tariff-free deal has been agreed.

Seafish – the public body which supports the industry – welcomed the Brexit deal if it makes trade flows easier but said uncertainty remains on fishing rights.

Director of operations Aoife Martin said 75% of UK seafood exports went to the EU in 2019, so a trade deal was important for the future of the sector.

Ms Martin said: "Over the last four years, we have supported the seafood industry to prepare for a no-deal outcome.

"This was likely to make trade difficult and costly so we're glad to see a deal that should make trade flow easier."

Jim Portus, chief executive of the South West Fish Producers Organisation, described the announcements by Mr Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen as "fairly sketchy and short on detail".

"They are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear really," he said.

Mr Portus said Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen appeared to contradict each other, saying: "I also suspect the EU will end up being happier than the UK will.

"That would be the acid test for me. If the Europeans are celebrating, then we should be looking at the Prime Minister saying why are they celebrating.

"The one thing missing from this was about access to the 12-mile limit. If the UK is a genuinely sovereign independent coastal state then we would not grant access to our 12-mile limit automatically."

Mr Portus said it was good for fish traders that they will be able to trade without tariffs and without quotas, adding: "But at what cost?"

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said that Brexit means the sector now faces the reality of "lots more red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork" and warned that delays in getting fish to European markets will have "serious consequences" for perishable products.

SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said: "We are pleased the negotiators have at last secured a deal. This will alleviate some of the serious problems that would come from a 'no deal' Brexit.

"But we still have concerns. The disruption at the Channel right now is hitting our members' ability to export. Brexit means the Scottish salmon sector now face the reality of lots more red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork which are the reality of the extra trade barriers which come with Brexit."

Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, said that having a deal on the table at long last comes as a "welcome relief" to the Scottish seafood sector, which relies heavily on exports and that tariff-free trade is a "huge benefit".

She said: "However, this is a two-sided deal. Over the last few days, we've seen the utter chaos that disruption at the Border causes."

Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said that while the full details of the Fisheries Agreement reached between the UK and the EU had yet to emerge, on the surface it did not appear to deliver on the industry's aspirations.

Ms Macdonald said: "What has been outlined so far is that full access will be granted to EU vessels for effectively six years from January.

"Over the same timescale the increase in quota shares for UK vessels will be 25%.

"The Government has not yet provided the full text of the agreement or how this increase will apply to particular species, so it is very difficult to make a detailed assessment of the impact on our industry.

"However, the principles that the Government said it supported – control over access, quota shares based on zonal attachment, annual negotiations – do not appear to be central to the agreement.

"After all the promises given to the industry, that is hugely disappointing. We expect to be able to study the detail in the coming days and will issue a further statement when we have been able to do so."

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