The Scottish Pelagic Fishing Industry got the PMs golden handshake claims PFA President
The President of the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) Gerard van Balsfoort claims that the only fishing sector to benefit from Brexit was the Scottish Pelagic industry.
Speaking at yesterday’s ‘Future of EU-UK Fisheries after Brexit’ Public Hearing held by the PECH Committee on the question on ‘UK -Partners or Opponents post-Brexit’, Mr Balsfoort examined the question he was given and claimed the windfall of mackerel given to the Scottish pelagic sector was a golden handshake.
In his report he said:
“Everybody is complaining about the outcome of Brexit except for the Scottish Pelagic industry.
“They have been given the golden handshake by Boris Johnson, All the rest of us in the UK and EU are complaining about Brexit.”
Mr Balsfoort expressed serious concerns about the future of the fishing industry in both his native country (the Netherlands) and throughout the rest of the EU because he believed that the UK government were unsighted to the repercussions that their actions would have on neighbouring coastal states and the future of fish stocks. He continued:
“Secondly, if you listen to the number of voices in the UK about the 25/26 negotiations, they really claim to have another transfer of quota in 2026.
“This is something that we in the Netherlands and all over Europe really totally reject. We just discuss access conditions not a further quota redistribution.
“Thirdly, the impact vert shortly on the demersal sector on North Sea plaice and sole, they are on the brink of collapse, not so much because of Brexit but because of COVID, and of course as you know, MPAs and increasing fuel prices.
“The pelagic industry has lost 15% of their turnover and they are hardest hit together with the Irish pelagic industry. That will lead to an adjustment in the Dutch pelagic fleet.
“Another point is worrying and increasing resentment in the UK against foreign owned fishing companies. The Dutch, we do own a number of fishing companies in the UK, and this feeling of resentment in the UK could lead to measures against owned vessels and that is worrying.
“Point four, these are the direct consequences of Brexit but of course there less important indirect consequences and they really focus on the governance system in the north-east Atlantic.
“We have a large number of pelagic stocks who migrate, and they change all the time. The migration is not all in one direction, of course. There is some tendency to the north but that changes from year-to-year.
“Before Brexit, this led to a very complicated management system in the north Atlantic complex. The UK is a new coastal state, but it is also a very ambitious one. They have complicated this situation by the UK’s to reach agreement with Norway and the Faroe Islands, as it immediately led to, as we seen two weeks ago, to Norway and the Faroe Islands increasing their mackerel quotas by 55% and their fishermen have already started to use this quota.
“The EU and us pelagic fishermen are already suffering another blow in two or three years when this overfishing is continuing will reduce the size of the stock and reduce the size of the TAC for mackerel for all of us in the EU.
“This is on top of the Brexit blow of losing 26% and this is a really concerning situation. Although we didn’t have any say in the bilateral negotiations with Norway or the Faroe Islands, the collective consequences of these failures to reach an agreement will affect us all, and in the Netherlands.
“In that sense the UK is our opponent, going back to the title you have given me. They have been incapable as a coastal state to reach bilateral agreements with their neighbouring coastal states on stocks that also matter to us a lot. But yet, and precisely because as we say we are married to the UK through the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we don’t really have any other option but to try and collaborate with the UK in these unilateral coastal states negotiations which is one of the reasons why the UK and the UK were in the end were able, I think, to reach a fisheries agreement for 2021 which really I applaud as it is really important.
“Apart from this, it really obliges us to be partners in fisheries. We have so many shared stocks and we need to collaborate on data, science, management objectives and of course fisheries control.
“We are partners against all odds. We have no choice.”