The European Union and the United Kingdom on Wednesday finalized negotiations on an agreement in principle that sets catch limits for jointly managed fish stocks for 2021.
The agreement was finalized in a phone call between EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius and UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice.
The pact on management of key shared stocks secures the fishing rights of both the EU and the UK fleets until the end of 2021 under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
The deal establishes the total allowable catches (TAC) for 75 shared fish stocks for 2021, as well as for some deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022. It also provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species.
The signing of the agreement, expected in the coming days, will also enable both parties to engage in quota exchange.
Deal unlikely to ease Brexit tensions
While officials in London and Brussels may have shaken hands on this deal, it will likely not do much to quell anger and rancor among fishing communities on both sides of the English Channel, the North Sea and the Irish Sea.
The UK’s fishing sector faces immediate hardship and long-term damage under a free trade deal agreed between the EU and UK on Christmas Eve 2020, industry leaders and vessel owners say.
Under the deal, the United Kingdom will gradually receive 25 percent more fish over the next five years.
Scottish seafood processors have expressed fears of being cut out of the supply chain as vessels head for ports in Denmark to land their catches to avoid disruptions following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on Jan. 1.
Meanwhile, French fishermen continue to wrangle with the Boris Johnson-led UK government over the allocation of fishing licenses for British waters they were promised under the free trade deal.
Anger in France over the UK government's failure to deliver the requisite number of licenses has led to reports that a future deal with the EU on financial services, the most important area of the British economy -- which was left out of the free trade deal -- may be blocked.
Ireland insists it has been disproportionally impacted by the quota transfers to the United Kingdom under the TCA compared to other EU member states, and the loss of quota will have a significant impact on the longer-term viability of the Irish fleet.
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