EU coastal states crushed: Fishermen facing £38m blackhole over crippling Brexit quotas

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Fisheries ministers will hold a video call today to prepare for the first annual negotiations to maintain access to Britain’s coastal waters. The bloc faces growing anger and frustration at their efforts to fine-tune future fishing with some EU capitals complaining they have been disproportionately impacted by the Brexit trade and security deal. Under the agreement, the bloc will hand back 25 percent of the value of fish it catches in British waters over a five-and-a-half-year transition period.

Recent analysis by the Irish government argued that its fishermen are one of the worst-hit European countries by the deal.

The dossier said the Irish fleet would be left with a £38million black hole, mainly because of a 25 percent reduction in its quota share for western mackerel, the country’s largest fishery.

By 2026, Irish trawlermen will have lost 15 percent of the value of their quota share in UK fishing grounds.

The Danish fishing fleet is also reeling from the cuts to fishing opportunities in British waters as a result of the Brexit deal.

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Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, chief executive of the Danish Pelagic Producers Organisation, said the changes were a “massive blow”.

He told the FT: “A lot of Danish fishermen have had some serious conversations with their financial institutions over the past few weeks and no doubt there will be fishermen who will go out of business here and lose their vessels.”

The Flanders region of Belgium is also preparing for a significant hit to its fishing industry.

Jan Jambon, minister-president of Flanders, said the fishing sector would be a priority when spending plans are drawn up for the region’s share of the EU’s £4.4billion Brexit Adjustment Fund.

Senior officials have defended the Brexit cuts, insisting UK negotiators were seeking far greater repatriations of fishing rights.

Brussels also insists they have secured stability to ensure access to Britain’s coastal waters for the EU fleet for many years to come.

Under the Brexit deal, EU boats have been granted guaranteed access to UK waters until June 2026.

After the transitional period, Downing Street will have full control over access to our coastal waters but could be slapped with trade tariffs if EU vessels are largely locked out.

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The next round of UK-EU fisheries talks will focus on sustainability to set the overall limits for each species to avoid overfishing.

This is expected to be an extremely complicated task because Britain and the bloc share around 100 joint stocks.

Brussels is normally used to annual negotiations with Norway over about a dozen stocks.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced similar anger from the British fishing sector about the Brexit deal.

Fisheries chiefs have complained the UK negotiating team hadn’t secured a big enough Brexit windfall for the industry, which has been decimated thanks to its membership of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

Others have complained the introduction of red tape has resulted in fish rotting on the docks while firms attempt to export it to mainland Europe.

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