The NFFO has written to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, arguing that additional quota secured from the EU should be first and foremost use to address cases where acute quota shortages threaten the viability of fishing vessels.
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The NFFO has written in strong terms to the Prime Minister about the Government's portrayal of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a success on fisheries:
With exports of fish and shellfish into the EU impeded by a range of border issues, Defra has formed a new stakeholder group to address the mounting crisis. The group containing fish exporters and representative bodies from the fish sector will meet twice weekly and feed conclusions up to the top of government. Delays of up to 96 hours have been encountered at the border. Such delays are is obviously fatal to the business of selling a perishable commodity like fresh fish and live shellfish. The failure to eradicate obstacles at the border has implications for everyone in the supply chain from fishing vessels facing a fall in first-sale prices, to upmarket restaurants in Paris and Madrid who are being denied access to the high-quality fresh fish and shellfish that their reputations have been built on.
Annual Fisheries Agreements for 2021: Trilateral and bilateral negotiations have now opened between the UK and adjacent coastal states including EU, Norway and Faeroes. The aim will be to agree (if possible) total allowable catches for shared stocks and other fisheries management measures for 2021. Talks are being held remotely because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal circumstances access arrangements to fish in each other’s waters and quota allocations of shared stocks are part and parcel of annual fisheries agreements between coastal states. The UK, however, enters its first annual negotiations with the EU with one hand tied (and will for the next five-and-a-half years) because of the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU reached on Christmas Eve. Despite this considerable constraint, the talks which begin in earnest this week nevertheless represent a significant watershed.
Calais and Boulogne: despite the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU reached on Christmas eve, there is mounting concern over the export of fish to Europe, centering on obstacles in Calais and Boulogne. The first consignments of the year from Cornwall hit a brick wall of bureaucracy, and similar problems are being faced in relation to prawns exported from North Shields and with direct landings into Holland. At the time of writing one consignment of fish had been delayed 48 hours with attendant loss of quality. There were fears that the customer would reject the whole consignment on arrival. Buyers are warning vessels that purchases at first sale markets will soon be impacted if clear export routes across the narrow straits, compliant with the new customs regime cannot be quickly established.
As the old year faded away, and the new year dawns, we lick our wounds and take stock of the tasks that lie in front of us.
Some of the adjectives that will be in circulation within the UK fishing industry today, to describe the change in UK quota shares as the UK leaves the EU and the CFP, and the content of what was agreed in Brussels on Christmas eve sinks in. Some of the bell-weather stocks tell the story most vividly, After a further five years adjustment period, the UK’s share of Channel cod will have increased from 9.3% to 10.2%.
The NFFO weighs up the deal agreed between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve How, when on fishing rights the UK held all the cards, did we end up with such a paltry result in the UK/EU negotiations for a future relationship?
The NFFO will be publishing its reaction shortly to the deal concluded in Brussels this afternoon. In the meantime, please find below, our bare bones understanding of the content of the fisheries section of the agreement.
The NFFO reiterates what is at stake as negotiations with the EU reach the inevitable endgame