The Chair of the UK Fisheries Advisory Board, Sir Barney White-Spunner has said that in his view there is one easy choice for the new PM uk failures distant-waters fleet

UK Fisheries Ltd slams the failures of the UK Government to provide the UK’s distant-waters fishing fleet with sufficient quota

UK Fisheries Ltd, have criticised the failure to provide the UK’s distant-waters fishing fleet with sufficient quota, which results on the importation of cod and haddock from Norway.

Since Brexit, UK Fisheries Ltd have faced lean times particularly in the early days due to the failure of the UK government to secure fisheries agreements with Norway and other northern European coastal states. In the years since, the UK has secured fisheries agreements with Norway but UK Fisheries Ltd has seen its total allowable catch of cod and haddock in these distant waters. The company has blamed a “pro-pelagic bias” in the UK Government, with CEO, Jane Sandall stating July 2023:

“What, then, are we to make of policies at Defra that have in practice discriminated against the UK’s distant-waters fleet not just once or twice, but on every possible occasion since 2019? In round after round of talks with our traditional partner states, Defra failed to negotiate quotas that could and should have been landed for the UK’s whitefish vessels.

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“Our crews – many of whom are now out of work due to this repeated negligence – ask me why the government refuses to come to the aid of the distant-waters industry that is now on its knees. But the truth is that I don’t know why every deal Defra strikes with Norway yields yet more millions to a small number of large pelagic vessels, while every other section of the UK fishing industry is crying out for help.” (Source).

Pointing out, what she called an imbalance, Ms Sandall continued:

“Of the total quota benefit gained since Brexit (before losses attributable to Brexit), a staggering three-quarters accrues to approximately 28 pelagic vessels, while the remaining 5,000-plus vessels in the fleet are left to share the remaining scraps.

“And if that doesn’t sound all that ‘balanced,’ the skewing of the financial gain per vessel is even starker. Benefits accruing to large pelagic vessels average at £2.4m per vessel versus just £2,400 per non-pelagic vessel. That’s right – the large pelagic vessels have gained £1,000 in additional Brexit quotas for every £1 gained by other types of vessel.

“This is before we factor in those vessels that have gained nothing at all, or those which, like Kirkella, have seen their fishing opportunities halved since Britain left the EU.” (Source).

Faced with the allotted quotas for 2024, UK Fisheries Ltd again hit out at the UK government for failing to negotiate what they believe are sufficient quotas for the distant-waters fleet. In a statement on the company’s website, UK Fisheries Ltd says:

“Cod and haddock are the UK’s favourite fish, but we don’t have anywhere near enough to satisfy demand and have always imported more that we have caught via a series of negotiations with Norway, Iceland the Faroes, and Greenland.

“The UK distant waters fishing fleet goes outside UK waters to catch cod and haddock because there’s not enough in our waters to supply our fish and chip shops. It is a case of us catching those fish in distant waters or importing the fish from other countries.

“For 2023, the UK was allocated only 750 tonnes of cod in Norwegian waters and 5,200 tonnes in the waters around Svalbard. The UK had no fishing opportunities in NAFO (Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization) and has no quotas in Greenland.

“In the last two years the results of negotiations have been a disaster for the fleet. For 2024 the UK has been allocated only 700 tonnes of cod in Norwegian waters and 4,144 tonnes around Svalbard. The UK has also lost fishing opportunities in Greenland.

“Therefore, the total available cod in distant waters for 2024 is less than 6,000 tonnes (if we include 1,100 tonnes of NAFO quota allocated to the UK fleet) compared with a total of 19,500 in 2018.” (Source).

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