Talks over a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU have restarted this week and will conclude on Friday, with the next round set to begin on June 1. British negotiators will tell their counterparts that a new fisheries agreement cannot be part of a free trade deal with Brussels. They will rebuff EU demands that the fisheries agreement, which both sides pledged to do their best to seal by July, be subject to the same governance mechanism that would police and enforce commitments in the free trade agreement.
This position, though, sets David Frost, the UKs top Brexit official, on a collision course with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, who has already accused the UK of wasting time after the last round of talks ended in bad-tempered frustration.
A UK official told The Telegraph:”Our position on fish is reasonable and straightforward.
“We want a separate fisheries framework agreement which reflects our rights under international law and which provides for access and sharing opportunities based on the scientific principle of zonal attachment, with sustainability at its core.”
As tensions are set to rise, in a report for the Brexit think tank ‘Red Cell’ titled ‘Putting The Fisheries Negotiations Into Context’ and published in March, the leader of Save Britain’s Fish John Ashworth brilliantly explained why the the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been so detrimental to UK waters.
Mr Ashworth argued that “contrary to europhiles’ assertions”, the EU did not save stocks but caused a myriad of problems – ones which it still fails to address.
He wrote: “The EU caused overfishing through ‘equal access to a common resource’, which stopped Britain exercising her rights to manage her waters and address increasing vessel technology and power.
“The EU gave grants to build more powerful boats and incentivised overfishing with minimum market prices which stopped market gluts and low prices halting over supply.
“The EU’s caused a problem and then implemented quotas which do not work in mixed fisheries.
“Fishermen cannot determine what mix of species they catch. Quotas led to illegal landings or mass discarding.
“Quotas forced fishermen to overfish and catch more than necessary to find what they could keep.
“Quotas caused inaccurate science and exacerbated the fleet over-capacity already caused by the EU.
“To add insult to injury, when quotas were set under EU relative stability shares, the UK only received 25 percent of the resources although British waters contributed half the seas and catches.”
As the system failed, Mr Ashworth noted, the EU heaped on more rules and bureaucracy to try to make a bad system work.
He added: “This deprivation of our own management and resources, coupled with EU-funded over capacity and a failed quota system, is what killed over half the British fleet.
“Some say this is accidental; others think it a deliberate series of pretexts to cull the British fleet to make way for an EU fleet ruled by an EU policy.”