Brexit Fury: ‘Nothing has changed’ UK fishing boss slams Boris over ‘status quo’ deal

Brexit: Fisherman says industry has been 'shafted' with deal

The fishing agreement within Boris Johnson’s landmark Brexit trade deal has failed to undo the “disadvantageous arrangement” faced by British fisherman for the past 40 years, according to the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO). The NFFO’s Chief Executive Barrie Deas told Times Radio “in some important aspects nothing has changed”. 

Over a week on from the deal being signed, Mr Deas said: “The agreement settled on the status quo in terms of European fleets access to UK waters and marginal changes to quota shares.

“So from a fishing industry point of view the disadvantageous arrangement that applied for 40 years really continues.

“Compared to the kind of relationship the EU has with Norway which is another independent coastal state but isn’t tied into these arrangements.

“So on the fishing rights front, nothing much has changed.”

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He continued: “I suppose looking forward one of the things that will be different will be regulatory autonomy meaning we will be outside the common fisheries policy and therefore able to design and implement our own fisheries management systems.

“That will be important. On the trade front, we are facing some difficulties getting fish through Calais and Boulogne, there have been hold-ups and, of course, fish are a perishable commodity, highly perishable and some of our trucks have been delayed there for thirty-six hours with consequent impact on the consignments.

“There is a concern that when it gets to the final customer it will be rejected.”

Mr Deas has previously said that the fishing industry has been sacrificed in the Brexit trade deal, calling it a “lost opportunity” for British fishermen. 

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During negotiations in the past few years, fishing was one of the main sticking points, causing talks to be gridlocked for months.

Under the controversial Commons Fisheries Policy (CFP), all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.

Mr Johnson confirmed his agreement with the bloc on Christmas Eve, proudly and insisted it would ensure the UK takes back control of its seas.

However, at the time Mr Deas claimed his industry had been betrayed in order to win a wider deal.

He said: “In the endgame, the Prime Minister made the call and caved in on fish, despite the rhetoric and assurances that he would not do what Ted Heath did in 1973.”

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In a fiery rant against the trade deal, Mr Deas told BBC News in December that the EU “played hardball” and won out in the talks, with the deal “very, very close to the status quo”

He said: “Fishing had been given a very high priority in the negotiations.

“It’s clear now that the EU played hardball. Our reference point is that under international law a coastal state has the right to harvest its resources within its waters.

“That is absolutely what we have not secured in these negotiations. The quota shares that have been agreed are very, very close to the status quo.

“On a practical level, in the fisheries that are of particular concern to us, there has been next to no movement.”

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