EU fishing access to UK waters continued to be a huge sticking point in months of Brexit negotiations, and on several occasions, threatened to completely derail the agreement between the two sides. Now a fresh row has exploded after Danish boats were accused of ignoring environmental rules to plunder UK waters. Scottish fishermen in the Fladen prawn grounds around the Shetland Islands have claimed trawlers from the Scandinavian nation have been found to be present in British waters – despite being banned since 2007.
Local fisherman have also said the massive EU fleets are using multi-rig trawlers.
Guernsey has allowed boats from across the Channel to plunder the waters around the coast of the British Crown Dependency during crunch talks with the EU and France over their fishing rights.
Officials from the isle have agreed to allow French vessels access to its Channel waters until June 30.
They had hoped this would allow enough time for a new licensing system to be implemented based on the UK’s trade agreement with Brussels, which requires French vessels to apply to fish in Channel Island waters.
Guernsey was hoping to have the system in place by last week (April 1) but like they were during Brexit talks, the negotiations with the EU and France are understood to have been difficult and complex because of policy issues.
The interim arrangement is set to continue on the grounds it can be extended on a monthly basis up to a maximum period of three months if needed.
The Crown Dependency is not part of the UK but often aligns policies and agreements with Westminster. However, it is responsible for its own fishing regulations and licencing.
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, Guernsey’s External Relations Minister, said: “The extension recognises the interests of the domestic fleet by retaining the ability to move to the full TCA licensing regime sooner, if this is possible.
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During the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU, fisheries became a heated topic, with both sides at loggerheads over access to British waters following the end of the transition period on December 31.
But an 11th-hour agreement was finally struck, with both sides agreeing 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the UK fishing fleet by June 30, 2026.
EU fishing quotas in UK waters will be cut by 15 percent in the first year and 2.5 percentage points each year following that, and it is estimated that by 2026, UK boats will have access to an extra £145m of fishing quota every year.
The UK fleet can also expect quota increases for 57 out of the 90 types of fish caught in British waters every year, but quota shares for species like channel cod, of which EU boats catch more than 90 percent each year, will remain unchanged.
Following the end of the adjustment period on June 30, 2026, annual talks will begin to determine the amount of fish EU fishing boats can catch in UK waters (and vice versa).
But the balance of power transfers into the hands of the UK, which will then have the power to completely withdraw EU boats’ access to its waters, although Brussels could retaliate by suspending access to its own waters for UK boats or impose costly tariffs on fish exports from the UK to the EU.
Speaking during a press conference from Downing Street on Christmas Eve, Mr Johnson said for the first time since 1973, the UK “will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters”.
He added Britain’s share of fish in its waters rising “substantially from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time”.