Future relationship talks shift focus from quota share to access for the EU fishing fleet to UK waters as negotiations continue in today. Photo: Oliver McBride
It is being reported that there are some new developments on fisheries in the EU-UK Trade negotiations currently taking place in London.
The focus has now shifted to access when it was previously quota shares that was the centre of the talks on fisheries.
On quota shares, EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier is reportedly still offering 15-to-18% of the value of what EU fleets catch in UK waters, while the UK remains adamant, they want 80%. According to Tony Connelly from Irish broadcaster RTÉ, that has been parked but it will be revisited.
Instead, all the negotiations on the question of access. The UK is demanding absolute control over British waters by having the power to deny EU fishing vessels access on an annual basis when it comes to individual species.
This would be achieved through annual negotiations on the total allowable catch (TAC); the basic mechanism for determining the total catch of a species based on scientific evidence from the ICES and is separate from the “quota share”.
Under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, this negotiation is held each December.
It is understood the UK is pressing for the ability to deny access if there is no agreement on the annual TAC. Under the fisheries agreement signed recently with Norway, there is a similar agreement, but unlike the situation with the EU where both blocs share over 100 fish stocks, the UK only share seven fish stocks with Norway.
If the EU would agree to annual TAC negotiations, this would be a concession on their behalf.
At this morning’s meeting with EU ambassadors, it is reported that Michel Barnier accepted the concept of an annual TAC negotiations, but he emphasised that any deal would have to give the EU fleet stability and predictability.
Barnier advised the ambassadors that one way to guarantee that would be that the EU could impose tariffs on any stocks sold by UK fishermen into the single market if EU boats were denied access to those stocks, or the waters in which those stocks congregate.
There was also talk of an independent arbitration process if the UK denied access based on the inability of both sides to agree TAC levels.
There are further concerns that if EU fishing vessels were denied access to a particular species and that species lived in “mixed” fisheries zone, then the ban could extend to all stocks in that area, due to the risk of an EU vessel catching a “denied” fish. This has not been confirmed
So far, we have been told that these are still in the process of ideas and Mr Barnier has not made any agreement on this with the UK side.