Proposals put forward by EU negotiators in efforts to reach a deal between the European Union and the UK threaten to “throw fisheries under a bus”, according to the European Fisheries Alliance, EUFA.
EUFA is calling on the European Commission to honour commitments made to the fishing sector in the mandate given to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, and EUFA chairman Gerard van Balsfoort commented that four years of effort in ensuring that fisheries remain at the very heart of the talks are now in serious jeopardy.
“While our industry has faced down many serious challenges down through the years and has proven itself to be resilient, versatile and determined, this is a desperate slap in the face and potentially the single-biggest and most catastrophic setback of our time,” he said, commenting that such an outcome could spell the death knell for large parts of an industry which contributes so much to coastal communities across nine EU states if the European Commission fails stand up for its fishermen and honour its written agreement.
“The shape of a deal, as currently stands would give a huge blow to the European seafood sector which is made up more than 18,000 fishermen and 3500 vessels with an annual turnover €20.7billion. Our industry is literally and metaphorically on the brink and in spite of repeated promises made, we are in the throes of being sold down the river with the offer made to the United Kingdom by the European Commission,” Gerard van Balsfoort said, adding that this would entail a new round of fisheries negotiations with the UK starting after only six or seven years.
“The one thing we wanted to avoid was a ‘no-deal’ situation in the interests of all our fishermen but the deal which is now being proposed is every bit as bad. We are looking at vicious and unprecedented cuts on a wide range of stocks including our pelagic, shellfish and whitefish sectors.”