Spain fishing PANIC: Sector risks losing £48m as officials admit massive Brexit challenge

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Spanish fishing fleets are estimated to lose €9.36million (£8.47million) in 2021, following the introduction of the post-Brexit trade deal agreed between the EU and Britain. The predictions have been made by the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca), who have said Spanish fleets will also lose access to some 3,455 tonnes of species such as hake, rooster, monkfish and code this year.

Cepesca also estimated the total cost of the new arrangements during the five year adjustment period for changes to fishing rights, as outlined in the Brexit deal.

The group warn Spain will lose €54.3million (£49million) and 4.318 tonnes of the main fishing species over this transition period.

Cepesca General Javier Garat said: “Although at the beginning we welcomed the agreement with some relief, taking as a reference the reduction percentages based on the relative stability of catches that were provided by the Government, as we translate that to real day-to-day figures, we note serious short-term damage, to which is added the uncertainty that will come from 2026.

“The impact of the loss of more than 54.3 million euros is important for the shipowners’ families, crew, shore workers and for the indirect jobs that are generated by the 88 vessels of the NEAFC census and the 4 codfish that fish in Svalbard, which have a base port in Galicia, Cantabria and the Basque Country.”

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He also warned the situation could worsen if the current provisional Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for many of these species were reduced in upcoming UK-EU negotiations.

Boris Johnson secured a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, after months of intense negotiations.

Fishing rights proved a major stumbling block for the two sides, but they eventually agreed Britain would get a greater share of the fish from UK waters (25 percent), which will be phased in between 2021-2026.

The five year adjustment period will give EU fleets time to adjust to the new measures, until the end date of June 30, 2026.

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Under the plans, EU fishing quotas in UK waters will be reduced by 15 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent each year after.

After 2026 annual negotiations will take place to decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU.

The two sides will also have to negotiate TACs of the 119 shared stocks starting this year.

In response to Cepesca’s estimates, General Garat urges the EU to “defend the European fishing industry”.

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He said: “The governments of the EU and the European Commission should defend the European fishing industry.

“It is the only formula – he concludes – to generate trust in the institutions and avoid multiplying the number of Eurosceptics in the fishing sector.”

The Galician fisheries and the Sea Council have vowed to defend the interests of the sector against the impact of the Brexit agreement.

The groups met earlier this week to discuss a course of action.

Edelmiro Ulloa, of la Cooperativa de Armadores de Vigo – a prominent Spanish fishing group, said: “We must defend the interests of Galician fishing and there is much work ahead.”

The general secretary of fishing group Anfaco-Cecopesca, Juan Manuel Vieites, added: “Regarding what is known of the agreement, the most worrying thing is the Malvina’s fleet with an important Vigo presence.

“There we have to work to fix the mess that causes this fleet to be left out of the Brexit agreement.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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