Danish fisheries leaders have backed comments made last week by the Danish fisheries minister, who accused the UK of reneging on parts of the post-Brexit TCA, placing them in the context of the UK ‘call for information’ on the sandeel and Norway pout fisheries, which many observers see as a step towards their outright closure in UK waters.

Danish minister Rasmus Prehn claimed that plans to ban mobile fishing gear from the Dogger Bank were not in line with the post-Brexit deal.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said “It’s really difficult to make an agreement, and just one year after, we have these problems with one part; that is not really acceptable, that is not how we usually make agreements. With the UK we used to have a very good relationship.”

Speaking to Fishing News, Henrik S Lund, of the Danmarks Fiskeriforening PO, confirmed that its own response to DEFRA, relating to the call for information on the Norway pout and sandeel fisheries, was closely aligned to the minister’s statements on the Dogger Bank. Moves by the UK to close the fishery, initially to UK vessels only, but subsequently to EU vessels, are seen as being in direct contravention of the TCA.

“As far as Denmark is concerned,” he said, “we have paid for access to UK waters, as part of the reciprocal EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement, for which we gave up historical quota. The UK cannot now be finding ways to make this fishery impossible for us, whether or not they try to move the fishery to a zero TAC.

“Currently 90% of the sandeel fishing our vessels undertake is on the more mobile sediments of the Dogger Bank. These are too far away from land to affect any breeding seabird colonies, and our efforts concentrate on the mobile sandy sediments that are regularly disturbed by storms.

“This fishery has also been shown time and again to be clean, with no bycatch of other juveniles. Closing Dogger Bank will likely force vessels to fish elsewhere, where environmental impacts on seabed habitats are actually greater.

“For us, too, this is a matter of principle. If you make a five-year international agreement and then try and disregard this after 12 months, how can you be trusted again? What will happen to UK fishermen, when they are next in line for the same treatment by their government?

“If you close one fishery, based not on scientific advice, but on emotional argument, where does it stop?”

On wider issues, Kenn Skau Fischer, CEO of the DFPO, said: “As we move to the dialogue involving Norway, EU and the UK, to set next year’s TACs, it is a great pity that the issue of Dogger Bank is dividing Denmark and the UK.

“Although in the southern North Sea we are seeing fewer cod, in the north, and in the Skagerrak, Danish fishermen are experiencing exactly the same run of cod that our colleagues in Scotland and Norway are seeing.

“There is a complete mismatch between the amount of cod on the grounds, and the TAC available. Cod has become a complete choke species for Danish fishermen, much like in the northern UK.

“The European Commission appears to recognise this, but seems to be taking a view that we should ‘choke’ other species to bring their TACs in line with the ICES cod advice, not vice versa.

“Denmark shares the UK/Norway view that we need to urgently re-examine catch figures, and other assumptions about mortality of cod, that impacts the ICES advice.

“It is a shame that other moves by UK authorities make this support harder for us to provide.”

Main image source: DFPO

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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