Fisheries MEPs have urged the European Commission to safeguard the EU fleet’s fishing rights in the North Eastern Atlantic following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

With the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) now having been in place for a year, MEPs on the Fisheries Committee were reviewing the hurdles that have impeded its implementation, and emerging issues in the fisheries field. They put on record that they ‘deplored’ the fact that the TCA gradually reduces the share of the European fleet’s fishing opportunities in UK waters by 25% over a five-and-a-half-year period.

A draft resolution on the future of fisheries in the English Channel, North Sea, Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean following Brexit was adopted unanimously by the committee on 3 March.

It expresses the fisheries MEPs’ concerns about the UK’s ‘protectionist’ measures, which limit fishing licences for EU vessels in the Crown Dependencies, and urges the UK ‘to refrain from controversial actions’.

The fisheries MEPs ask the Commission to ‘consider all options to ensure that the rights of EU vessels are respected, including limiting the UK’s access to EU ports or restricting the import of fisheries products’.

The resolution states: “The EU-UK relationship must be anchored in a spirit of good faith and neighbourliness that would lead to stable and predictable conditions for fishers now and after the transition period ending in June 2026.”

The draft resolution says that Brexit has destabilised relations between North Atlantic coastal states, resulting in Norway, Iceland and Faroe taking unilateral decisions that negatively affect stocks and the EU fleet – such as its loss of Svalbard cod quota.

The MEPs on the Fisheries Committee are calling on the Commission to work on appropriate solutions with other coastal states on better control and management measures in line with the CFP and the Green Deal.

They stress that the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Fisheries must be transparent, urging that Fisheries Committee representatives be invited as observers when the committee meets.

Fisheries Committee rapporteur Manual Pizarro said: “The European Union and the UK need to continue to work together to deliver sound international ocean governance by promoting the sustainable use and exploitation of ocean resources. Marine areas must be protected and restored on the basis of the best and most up-to-date scientific knowledge. We must work together in a spirit of good neighbourliness and peaceful co-operation.

“Unfortunately, the UK has already shown that it intends to implement some protectionist measures like the so-called ‘economic link’ that go beyond the spirit of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement. It is of utmost importance that the European Commission pays particular attention to this type of action and responds accordingly.”

The draft resolution now needs to be voted on by the full house of the EU parliament, possibly during the April session.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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