EU: Eric Bocquet suggests ‘realignment mechanisms’ in fishing waters
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The challenge came from Communist Senator Eric Bocquet during talks on the ratification of the Brexit trade deal in France’s Senate earlier this week. Mr Bocquet warned fishing communities in his Hauts-de-France region have already suffered because of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and insisted appropriate measures should be created to ensure access from 2026. Addressing colleagues, the French Senator said: “The absence of realignment mechanisms risks leading in the years to come to British standards falling below European standards.
On the one hand, the European Union will not have to resign itself to not strengthening the protection of Europeans and on the other hand, we will find ourselves in the situation of dumping we so feared.
“On fishing, we risk assisting in 2026 tp a British takeover of its fish-rich waters and the question arises – can the European Union guarantee the protection of European fishermen when London could renegotiate annually with surely ambition to increase the drop-out rate of European prices?”
Under the agreement reached in December, EU boats will still be able to catch fish in UK waters while a larger share of the resources is shifted back into the hands of British vessels between 2021 and 2026.
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At the end of the transition period, annual negotiations will be held to decide how the fishing share is allocated.
The agreement would also grant the British Government to opt for the full exclusion of European Union boards in five years’ time.
The Brexit trade deal has sparked concerns on both sides of the Channel, with British fishermen lamenting their EU counterparts’ ability to still access UK waters despite promises of “taking back control”.
Smaller fishing firms have demanded the immediate renegotiation of the terms of the deal over fears the ongoing “teething problems” they have been experiencing at the border could have them go bust.
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England fishing company Waterdance’s Martyn Youell said: “Sadly, there are some extreme forces operating on the supply chain and we probably will see some forced consolidation or business failure and that is impacting the fishing industry.
“We are struggling to find markets for some of the products we previously had very good markets for through small-scale exporters.
“Those at the more medium size, their costs have increased dramatically.”
Sarah Horsfall, co-chief executive of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, told the committee: “You just could not have written it any worse if you had wanted to for the industry.”
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In addition to concerns about firms ceasing to trade because of the growing costs of exports, UK fishermen have also been facing the threat of skirmishes with EU vessels.
Jersey has come under particular pressure as French fishermen protested over the struggles to access local waters they have been facing since the start of the year.
French trawler captain Ian Pascal Thévenin said: “If one of us is arrested we will all go together.
“Burning tyres as a form of protest is not enough. We must be heard.”
Another fisherman, Antonin Marie said: “What shall we do? Block Jersey fishermen from landing their catches? If we wait it’s victory for them.
“Fishing in Jersey is 80% of my turnover. What are we going to do if it doesn’t restart?”
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