Tories deny fishing boss’s claims of Brexit deal ‘betrayal’ of industry
THE UK Government has rejected claims that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has sold out Britain’s fishermen.
Under the terms of the agreement hammered out on Christmas Eve, 25% of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the UK fishing fleet, over a five-and-a-half-year transition period.
Allowing boats to “continue to enter the waters of the other party” until 2026 would bring “the social and economic benefits of a further period of stability”, the deal says.
After that period comes to an end the share of fish allowed to be caught by UK fishermen will rise to around two-thirds.
The UK had originally demanded that the EU’s rights be cut by 80%.
Andrew Locker, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), said he and his colleagues would be “absolutely worse off” as a result of the deal.
“I am angry, disappointed and betrayed. Boris Johnson promised us the rights to all the fish that swim in our exclusive economic zone and we have got a fraction of that,” he told the BBC’s Today programme yesterday morning.
“We are absolutely worse off,” he said. “When we were within the EU, we used to trade fish with the EU.
“We used to swap things we didn’t use with fish that they didn’t use and that enabled us to put together an annual fishing plan.
“What we have got now is a fraction of what we were promised through Brexit. We are going to really, really struggle this year.
“When Boris Johnson and his government promised Brexit to the fishermen he promised none of us would be worse off. There is a considerable amount of fishermen – small families, small communities – absolutely worse off by this deal.”
Over the weekend, Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, claimed his industry had been betrayed by the deal.
“In the endgame, the Prime Minister made the call and caved in on fish, despite the rhetoric and assurances that he would not do what Ted Heath did in 1973,” he said.
Tory minister Michael Gove defended the deal, claiming that the UK would be “in a stronger position than we were in the EU and in the common fisheries policy”.
He told the Today programme: “In the common fisheries policy we were only able to access about 50% of the fish in our waters. It is the case that we are now getting a significant uptick in that number, so we will have by 2026 about two-thirds of the fish in our waters.”
Writing in The Scotsman, he also promised cash support for the industry, promising to “invest in the UK fleet and our communities”.
“I am delighted to say that details of a major funding package will be announced in the very near future.”