Brexit: ‘Arrangements have been made’ on fishing says Gove
German-based pressure group Environmental Action Germany (DUH), and Our Fish, a UK-based charity, have condemned the bloc’s approach after Virginijus Sinkevicius, the EU commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, confirmed it was ignoring scientific advice by setting fishing limits in excess of the recommended total in about one third of EU fish stocks. The ongoing dispute with respect to quotas in the north-east Atlantic means a target set in 2013 to end overfishing by 2020 will now be missed.
Scientists had called for a 17 percent cut in most catches for next year.
Instead, EU ministers have agreed that at least one quarter of fishing quotas – or total allowable catches (TACs) – from last year will be carried over until 2021, because they were shared with the UK.
They also agreed to catches above those recommended by scientists for EU-only populations, including pollack and sole in the Bay of Biscay, which will be unaffected by the UK’s departure from the European Union.
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Sascha Muller-Kraenner, Federal Managing Director of the DUH, commented: “The dispute between Great Britain and the EU is being carried out at the expense of marine health and biodiversity.
“In order not to alienate anyone, the fisheries ministers, chaired by Julia Klockner, risk overfishing in 2021.
“Everyone involved has to adhere to the scientific recommendations in order to preserve marine ecosystems.
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“That is why we call on Julia Klockner and the other fisheries ministers to revise this risky decision and, in the pending negotiations with Great Britain, to fix fishing quotas based on science without exception.”
Rebecca Hubbard, director of the Our Fish Initiative, said: “The EU and Germany play a key role in restoring our marine ecosystems and in the management of our shared resources.
“With today’s decision to continue overfishing in their own waters, the fisheries ministers are still putting short-term gains above protecting our climate and marine biodiversity.
“This is a disappointing move that undermines global progress towards a healthy ocean and the EU’s commitment to sustainable fisheries management.”
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Explaining the decision today, Mr Sinkevicius said: “We have brought eight total allowable catches in line with the levels that guarantee the maximum sustainable yields from those stocks.
“EU ministers have followed my proposals on the precautionary approach for nine fish catch quotas.
“This is a step in the right direction. The Commission proposal was very ambitious and I welcome today’s overall good outcome.
“We have also managed to respond to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and secure continued fishing for all EU fishermen and women.
“Vessels can take to the sea on 1 January 2021 and the fishing sector can be reassured that their business is recognised as a priority for the EU.”
Potential problems after the end of the year were highlighted by Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, yesterday.
He added: “”Any reduction in our fish quota we want to avoid at all costs.
“That’s why the attachment of the fish negotiations to other aspects of the free trade agreement (FTA) is really important.”
“There’s a lot of stake and we need level heads.”
Mr Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “The fisheries issue in the Brexit talks has focused interest in Ireland on how badly the country is treated under the current Common Fisheries Policy.
“This is very uncomfortable for the Government and the pro EU lobby.
“Other countries catch hundreds of millions of euros worth of fish in Irish waters and subsequent processing can more than double the value of that catch.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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