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Barrie Deas, CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, has warned Michel Barnier the EU’s “exploitative relationship” over the past 40 years with UK waters is coming to an end. The latest round of Brexit talks between Michel Barnier and UK negotiator David Frost concluded on Thursday, with outstanding issues over fishing, governance and trade remaining.
Mr Barnier firmly pointed the blame towards the UK for the lack of progress and described the UK’s position on fishing as “simply unacceptable”.
Britain is set to finally leave the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and take back control of its territory.
The CFP is governed by the EU and sets out rules and quotas for fishing across the bloc.
Each member state including the UK, is only allowed to control an area of sea extending twelve miles out from their coastline, with the rest of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) shared.
Barrie Deas, who represents fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, highlighted the major flaw in the system and said EU vessels caught six times as many fish in UK waters.
A Government report in 2015 found EU vessels caught 683,000 tonnes of fish worth £484million in UK waters.
But UK boats only caught 111,000 tonnes worth £114million revenue in EU member states’ waters.
Barrie Deas told Express.co.uk: “The changed legal position at the end of the transition period is that EU and UK vessels no longer have automatic access to each others waters.
“Access will have to be negotiated as part of annual fisheries negotiations, along with appropriate quota shares.
“The EU fleets fish around six times much in UK waters as UK vessels fish in EU waters and to obtain access to UK waters in the future will have to agree to quota shares which more closely reflect the resources in UK waters.
“Understandably, Michel Barnier does not like this but the fact is that the UK has been trapped in an asymmetric and exploitative relationship with the EU on fisheries for 40 years and that is about to end.”
Following the negotiations in Brussels, Mr Barnier said the “UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions” on the role European Court of Justice, UK laws and fishing.
The French politician said the current proposal would totally exclude EU fishermen from UK waters
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He said: “The UK is effectively seeking for near-total exclusion of fishing vessels from the UK’s water.”
David Frost insisted the UK would not be backing down and called on the EU to treat the UK like an “independent state” or risk a no deal scenario.
He said: “Until the EU has internalised and accepted that we will be an independent state with the right to determine our laws, control our own fishing grounds then it will be difficult to reach an agreement.”
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