EUFA says that the UK should no longer benefit from the additional quota it was granted after joining the EU
The negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship are approaching final stages and a bilateral fisheries agreement is still one of the unsolved topics on the table.
It is evident that the UK is seeking a new base line for the allocation of fishing opportunities (quota) for the many fish stocks shared by the two blocs.
EUFA recalls that it is imperative when discussing the future sharing arrangement of fish quota post-Brexit, which will form the fundamental of our future relationship on fisheries, the UK should no longer benefit from the additional fishing quota it was granted after joining the Union.
In other words, when seeking to establish a new base line for sharing, the UK allocation is adjusted downwards (by 26%) to once again reflect historic catches but this time without the benefit of any adjustment for third country losses established in the original keys and still in use today.
The current allocation key of fishing quota codifies fishing practices in the waters that European and British fishermen have historically shared. Each country is allocated a share in fish stocks that its fishermen have traditionally been fishing. This allocation key, known as “relative stability”, has been the foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy, together with reciprocal access to each other’s fishing grounds. Both elements of stability have significantly contributed to improving the sustainability of fish stocks and fisheries in community waters.
The United Kingdom, whose fleet remains by far the largest in its waters, has largely profited from this allocation key. When the UK joined the European Union, it was compensated for potential losses of fishing opportunities in third country waters with a 26% increase (in tonnes) on their basic allocation in the quota shares for seven principal fish stocks. This increase was and still is additional to its historical share under the relative stability. These additional quota shares granted to the UK were taken out of the quota shares of other Member States at the time.
EUFA believes that current fisheries management system is a delicate balance between the sustainable management of fish stocks and the economic prosperity of fishing fleets. This balance must be maintained in the interest of all involved. As a matter of principle, the UK should not have at the same time the status of an independent Coastal State and the benefits of EU Membership. EUFA calls upon the EU negotiators to take this into account when negotiating the future fisheries agreement with the UK.
Sean O’Donoghue of the Killybegs Fishermen Organisation stated: “the 26% increase in fishing quota for the seven principal species has been granted by the EU to the UK. It should end with the UK Membership”.
EUFA chairman Gerard van Balsfoort added: “As European Fishermen, we have continuously worked towards a balanced, mutually beneficial, long-term Brexit agreement. An allocation of fishing quota that reflects the historical fishing patterns, such as relative stability, is key to achieve this. The new normal needs to be calculated the right way. We are asking for nothing more, and nothing less”.