Top fishing CEO slams Brexit as EU announces major aid

Britain is violating Brexit fishing agreements says spokesperson

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The European Commission yesterday approved the multimillion euro Swedish scheme under EU State aid rules in order to support the fishery sector that has been impacted by the UK leaving the bloc. But the situation remains difficult for British fisheries. The CEO of UK Fisheries Jane Sandell suggests the UK’s industry now has just 50 percent of the opportunities available to it since Brexit.

Ms Sandell told Intrafish: “The abject failure to deliver the level of opportunities anticipated, and indeed the physical reduction in opportunities compared to 2019, has continued to restrict operations across the board.”

UK Fisheries is the owner and operator of the UK’s last distant-water whitefish trawler, the Kirkella. Prior to Brexit, the Kirkella could harvest around 15,000 metric tons of Arctic cod and haddock in the waters around Norway.

It used to be the only UK fishing vessel operating in Norway’s Economic Zone (NEZ). However, since Brexit, the UK has only managed to secure half of these volumes in its negotiations with Norway.

Ms Sandell said: “We’re still at 50 percent of the fishing opportunities that were available before Brexit, which means we’re at 50 percent of the turnover that we could be creating.”

In 2022, Kirkella has a cod quota of roughly half what it had prior in Norwegian and Svalbard waters. Meanwhile, the EU’s latest scheme will provide compensation in the form of direct grants for companies “to cover for the loss of income due to the temporary cessation of fishing activities” due to Brexit, the European Commission said.

The scheme is funded by the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which was established “to mitigate the economic and social impact of Brexit”. Last week, the European Commission issued a similar French scheme, providing €60million in support for fishing companies.

Ms Sandell did say there was a glimmer of hope in the form of a new Prime Minister, which might shake up fishing industry relations.

During a Tory hustings in Exeter in the build-up to her campaign victory to become PM, Liz Truss promised to “back” fishermen. However, the support she mentioned only extended to a promised fresh negotiation in four years’ time.

She said: “In 2026, there’s going to be a new negotiation and I will make sure as an independent coastal state we have full control over our fishing waters.”

June Mummery, former MEP for the East of England and founder of REAF, the Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries, told last month: “Brexit was a golden opportunity to take back control of our waters and resources. A majority of people that voted to leave the EU wanted that.

“We didn’t vote to be sacrificed.”

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The Brexiteer added: “The deal negotiated by Boris (Johnson) and [former Brexit minister] David Frost was a massive betrayal beyond belief. That tells me coastal communities are not important to parliament, the Tory party or Labour.

“Labour should be all over this. They should be banging the drum for coastal communities.

“We were sold out. Boris had it in his hands. Look what he could have done.” has contacted the Department of Food and Rural Affairs for comment.

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