EU and UK agree fishing deal amid Channel row

The EU and the UK on Wednesday (1 June) concluded an agreement setting out catch limits for jointly managed fish stocks for 2021, the first annual deal under the new trade deal between London and Brussels. EPA-EFE/VICKIE FLORES [EPA-EFE/VICKIE FLORES]

The EU and the UK on Wednesday (2 June) concluded an agreement setting out catch limits for jointly managed fish stocks for 2021, the first annual deal under the new trade pact between London and Brussels.

“This agreement provides predictability and continuity for our fleets with definitive total allowable catches for the remainder of the year,” said Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius in a statement.

“This is good for fishermen and women, our coastal communities and our ports, as well as for the sustainable use of our marine resources. This also proves that two partners on both sides of the Channel can find agreements and move forward if they work together.”

The agreement establishes the total allowable catches (TAC) for 75 shared fish stocks for 2021, as well as for some deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022. It also provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species, the European Commission added in a statement.

Under the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement, 25% of the previous EU quota in UK waters will be transferred to the UK between now and June 2026, with specific percentages of annual TACs agreed for each fishing stock. Mutual access to each other’s waters is now granted via a licencing system for fishing vessels.

Access to fishing waters has provoked several disputes in the five months since the UK left the bloc’s single market and customs union at the start of the year.

Earlier this month, a fresh row erupted between the UK and France over the access of French fishing boats to waters around the Channel Island of Jersey, with French vessels complaining that the licenses issued to them included conditions that were not included in the trade deal.

The row remains unresolved, with French foreign minister Jean–Yves Le Drian telling regional fishing chiefs in a letter that “we cannot accept these new manoeuvres and we will continue to defend the rights of our fishermen.”

Le Drian added that his government would not “hesitate to mobilise all the levers” on a “political and legal level and all the coercive measures at our disposal”.

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