Nicola Sturgeon hit back at Boris Johnson’s fish-themed Christmas present

Brexit: Fishing industry was 'sacrificed' by government says Deas

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Tensions between the UK and France are especially high at the moment as arguments over post-Brexit fishing rights rage on. French Secretary of State for European affairs Clement Beaune said on Thursday that France will begin legal action against the UK in January. Under the post-Brexit trade deal, which came into force at the beginning of this year, EU member states’ boats must have a licence to fish in UK waters. Likewise, UK boats need them to fish in the water of EU member states.

Licences are granted if boats can prove they have fished in a certain area between February 1, 2017 and January 31, 2020.

While big trawlers will routinely collect this information through Automatic Identification Systems, smaller vessels find it more difficult to provide such evidence.

Mr Beaune said earlier this month that France had been granted 93 percent of the requested licences to fish in UK waters.

The country, however, is still seeking a further 70.

Brexit has, meanwhile, offered a stunning opportunity for the Essex town of Lowestoft to revive its historic herring fishing industry.

EU red tape and overfishing had all but destroyed the industry in years gone by.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a series of promises about the future of fishing last year, and promised Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon a fishy Christmas present.

When asked if he would be getting Ms Sturgeon a Christmas present, he said: “There’s all sorts of things that will arise naturally from the UK getting a new relationship with our friends in the European Union.

“But one thing maybe of particular interest to the people of Scotland is that they will become the proud possessors of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish, shellfish, crustaceans.

“I don’t know whether Nicola is a keen fish eater but she will have more than she could possibly consume herself for a very, very long time to come.”

A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon responded first, telling the Daily Record at the time: “No amount of Boris Johnson bluster can hide the fact he is lining up a sell-out of Scotland’s fishing sector.

“Any Brexit deal is likely to fall far short of what the Tories promised — while a no-deal would be utterly devastating to our wider seafood industry, placing tariff and other barriers in the path of some of our most valuable exports.”

The Brexit deal was agreed nine days after the spokesperson’s comments.

Days after the Prime Minister’s comments, Ms Sturgeon was asked whether she would be getting him anything in return.

She replied: “I’m probably not one to talk, but a hairbrush maybe.

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“That’s meant as a light-hearted comment, not as a serious comment and I’m definitely not one to talk, as you can see.”

She added: “I actually signed him a Christmas card over the weekend, so there you go, there is a Christmas card winging its way from me to Boris Johnson.

“We will wait and see if there’s one winging its way in the opposite direction.”

The UK and the EU reached an agreement on how to divide up jointly managed fish stocks this week.

Under the Brexit trade agreement, the UK and the bloc must negotiate total allowable catches in the stocks they share in both the Atlantic and the North Sea on an annual basis.

A deal was finally approved on Wednesday after two months of discussions.

The UK also reached an agreement with Norway on Tuesday for fishing in each other’s waters.

However, the deal has been slammed as “devastating”.

Under a previous EU deal, Hull-based firm Kirkella could catch 14,000 tonnes of cod in Arctic waters around Svalbard and Norway.

Under the deal announced last week, this has been halved to 7,000 tonnes. 

This total, however, included the 6,550 tonnes the UK already had the right to catch under the Treaty of Paris, which did not need to be renegotiated after Brexit.

According to the BBC, Kirkella supplied between 8 and 12 percent of all fish sold in UK fish and chip shops prior to Brexit.

Their crew were unable to work for almost an entire year while post-Brexit negotiations remained ongoing.

UK Fisheries chief executive Jane Sandell said of the deal: “To say we are disappointed is an understatement.

We’re devastated for the crew. This [deal] brings a whole different level of uncertainty and instability for our crew members.

“The Government was fully aware of what we need for a viable business. We’ve had many conversations with ministers and civil servants.

“I can only conclude that they don’t really care.”

First mate Charlie Waddy told the Yorkshire Post that the Government had “sold us down the river”, and admitted it “could be the end for Kirkella”.

He said: “For what quota they give us it wouldn’t feed the fish and chip shops in Hull.”

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