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The Government has opened a call for evidence on expanding the use of Remote Electronic Monitoring on fishing boats in English waters. The monitoring technology is aimed at improving the management of fisheries, providing better data on fish stocks and stopping overfishing.
The move comes as the UK will be free from the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy – which British fishermen say has decimated their livelihoods – when the transition period comes to a close at the end of the year.
It is part of plans to use the latest technology to support the fishing industry.
Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said: “As we take back control of our fisheries, we want to ensure a sustainable and thriving fishing industry.
“Remote Electronic Monitoring technology could provide important information on the state of our fish stocks and help shape how we manage our fisheries in the future.
“We, therefore, want to hear from those who will be affected by its use and give them a say in how we manage our fisheries as an independent coastal state.”
Remote Electronic Monitoring systems can involve automatic cameras, GPS, sensors or other monitoring measures.
The technology is already used on a voluntary basis by some fishing vessels to show they are not discarding fish.
The Government’s call for evidence is asking for views on expanding the use of technology in English waters.
It comes as post-Brexit trade talks with the EU are on the brink after Boris Johnson said the UK would prepare for no deal unless Brussels makes a fundamental change to its approach.
In a televised statement last Friday, the Prime Minister blasted the bloc over its fishing demands and for refusing Britain a Canada-style deal.
Mr Johnson said: “They want the continued ability to control our destiny and freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“Given that this summit appears to explicitly rule out a Canada-style deal, I think that we should ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s.”
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Fishing has proved a major sticking points in negotiations between the UK and the EU on a free trade agreement.
Britain has insisted it will hold the right to control who can fish in British waters.
But the stance could result in a lower fish quota for European fishermen.
It was previously reported that the UK offered the EU a three-year buffer period to ease the impact of any reduction in the amount of fish that European boats can catch in British waters.
The concession would see fishing quotas for European trawlers scaled back gradually between 2021 and 2024.
Speaking at the EU summit last Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned he will not allow French fishermen to be “sacrificed” for an agreement between Britain and Brussels.
Mr Macron fumed: “Under any circumstance, our fishermen should not be sacrificed for Brexit.
“If these conditions are not met, it’s possible we won’t have a deal. If the right terms can’t be found at the end of these discussions, we’re ready for a no-deal for our future relations.”
Chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier spoke on the phone on Monday.
Following the call, Mr Barnier said the EU was prepared to continue talks across all subjects in the negotiations.
He also indicated Brussels was prepared to discuss “legal texts” for a deal – something the UK has been pushing for.
But while a Downing Street spokesman admitted there had been a “constructive discussion” and the UK and EU teams would remain in close touch, he insisted there would be no progress unless the bloc dramatically changes its stance.
The UK left the EU on January 31 and is in a transition period until the end of the year.
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