Brexit: Boris Johnson promises fishing changes by 2026
The EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that was signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU on December 30, will enable fishermen from the bloc to access UK waters for five and a half years. The trade deal allowed the EU to keep 75 percent of the value of the fish it now catches in UK waters, with 25 percent being returned to British fishermen over the transition period. From the summer of 2026, Britain can then cut quotas or exclude boats in a zone of 6-12 nautical miles.
It is also estimated that by 2026, UK boats will have access to an extra £145million of fishing quota every year.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Prentis admitted some parts of the post-Brexit trade agreement were more “challenging to accept” than others.
She also hinted the UK is likely to review the EU’s demands in 2026 to ensure Britain is able to have full control over its waters.
Ms Prentis said: “We have claimed back our waters and are once again an independent coastal state
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“At the 11th hour of negotiations, the EU did recognise that.
“We found some parts of the TCA challenging to accept than others and the decision on the six to 12 mile round parts around England and Wales was not something any of us wanted in the industry.
“Personally I would be surprised if we didn’t want to look at that again in five and a half years time.
“I think in the interim we can try to make sure the situation is managed as best we can.”
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Under the new rules, an EU Member State flagged vessel has no right to fish in UK waters until a license is issued.
Only when a vessel owner has gained the license to fish in UK waters, the vessel can sail and engage in fishing activities in those waters.
Mr Prentis added she is hopeful the transition period will be a chance for EU fleets to find new waters and fish elsewhere.
She said: “We do have to licence all vessels that come into our six to 12 nautical miles now and the team is working on doing that.
“We are going to be very careful about those with a historic track record of fishing in that area are able to.
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“I’m sure that all the French and Belgium vessels who have applied will not all be successful.
“In fact I suspect a much smaller number than expected will be successful and able to prove that pre-referendum they really did have a track record of fishing in that area.
“Because there are sufficient opportunities for those vessels elsewhere, I would hope they use the next few years as an adjustment period, which is what it is very much designed to be and that they are able to fish for the quota that they have in other areas and don’t find it necessary to fish in our six and 12 at the end of the adjustment period.
“I do accept that they feel very strongly about this as well and that they wanted to fish as they have done and that a period of adjustment is necessary but I really hope it can be just that – a period when things change.”
It comes as Mr Johnson insisted to the House of Commons that Brexit will deliver a huge uplift to Britain’s fishing sector over the next five years.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked about the UK’s fishing industry during Prime Minister’s Questions.
He said: “When the Prime Minister told fishermen in the southwest that they would not face export barriers and when he told Britain’s musicians and artists that they would still be free to tour and work in the rest of the EU after Brexit neither of those statements were correct were they Prime Minister?”
Mr Johnson replied: “It is absolutely true that some British fishermen have faced barriers at the present time due to complications of form filling.
“Indeed, one of the biggest problems is that there is a decline for fish in continental markets just because restaurants are shut.
“The reality is that Brexit will deliver and is delivering a huge uplift in quota already in the next 5 years.
“By 2026 the fishing people in this country will have all the access to all the territorial waters of this country.
“To get them ready for that El Dorado we are investing £100million in improving our fishing industry.”
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also announced today it was putting in place a £23million compensation package for firms exporting fish and shellfish to the EU that can show they have suffered “genuine loss” from the trade deal.
The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “This £23m scheme will provide crucial support for fishermen and seafood exporters, who have experienced delays and a lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry in the UK and Europe.”
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