According to Javier Garat, Secretary General of Cepesca, “Although at the beginning we welcomed the agreement with some relief, taking as a reference the reduction percentages based on the relative stability of catches that were provided by the Government, as we translate that political nomenclature to real day-to-day figures, we note serious short-term damage, to which is added the uncertainty that will come from 2026. The impact of the loss of more than 54.3 million euros is important for the shipowners’ families, crew, shore workers and for the indirect jobs that are generated by the 88 vessels of the NEAFC census and the 4 cod fish that fish in Svalbard and that have a base port in Galicia, Cantabria and the Basque Country.”
Cepesca’s calculation, based on reductions in tonnes, only in those species of high value, such as hake, megrim or monkfish, the cuts were 3.5%, 8.4% and 6.6% in zone 7 (West of Ireland and Porcupine), respectively, and are 18.9% for bantam and 19.8% for monkfish in zone 6 (West of Scotland). To these reductions must also be added those of other species also caught by the Spanish fleet, such as cod (15% less) in Svalbard. All these figures may go up or down each year depending on the TAC that is set for the different species.
More uncertainty for fishermen
Cepesca has also drawn attention to the consequences in the medium and long term since the transitional period will only last five-and-a-half years and, from that moment, the European Commission, on behalf of the Member States, will have to negotiate each year with the United Kingdom, both access to water and quotas. And starting this year, both parties will have to negotiate the TACs of the 119 shared stocks.
Beyond the concern about the joint management of these fish stocks to guarantee sustainability, this situation generates enormous uncertainty in companies in the fishing sector, because they do not know what quotas they will be able to count on from 2026 and if all Spanish fishing vessels will be able to access UK waters. Likewise, the impact it will have on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as well as on the quota exchanges between the different countries that fish in the United Kingdom, is unknown since, as of next year, they will have fewer fishing opportunities for possible exchanges.
Faced with this new stage and according to Garat, also president of Europêche, “The governments of the EU and the European Commission should rise to the occasion and defend the European fishing industry. It is the only formula, –concludes–, to generate trust in the institutions and avoid multiplying the number of Eurosceptics in the fishing sector.”