Brexit deal ‘demands’ future ‘compromise’ on fishing says expert
Fishing proved to be one of the most problematic issues in negotiations with the European Union during the Brexit transition period, which formally ended on December 31, 2020. In the landmark Trade and Corporation Agreement sealed on December 24, both sides agreed to cut the number of EU catches in UK waters by 25 percent over the next five years. Since January 1, additional red-tape and regulations have thwarted the industry across both sides on the Channel – including the sale of shellfish.
The UK is now being treated as a third country by the EU, and UK fishing firms are now only allowed to export pre-purified ready-to-eat shellfish to Europe.
Previously, shellfish could be cleaned once they had reached their destination.
The UK Government were previously informed the current restrictions on exports of bivalve molluscs- such as mussels, scallops and oysters – would end in April.
But, it has since emerged the bloc is pressing ahead with making the move permanent.
Boris Johnson should cut EU fishing quotas, according to a poll
The EU is poised to extend restrictions on shellfish exports
A subsequent poll of more than 5,000 Express.co.uk readers has found the overwhelming majority believe the Prime Minister should cut the EU’s fishing quotas in response.
The survey carried out on February 2 from 11.21am to 9.30pm asked 5,294 Express.co.uk readers, should Boris cut EU’s fishing quota after UK shellfish ban?
A huge 97 percent (5,202) of readers were in favour of cutting the EU’s share of fish in UK waters and voted “yes”.
Just over two percent (80) were against the proposal and voted “no”.
UK fishermen could see costs rise by up to £1million to adhere to export rules
Meanwhile, less than one percent remained unsure and voted “don’t know”.
A number of passionate Express.co.uk readers let their feeling known in the comments sections of the poll.
One reader wrote: “The EU cannot ‘cherry pick’ with yet another political/economic sleight of hand AND protectionism!
“The excuse is that GB is a third country and imports of shellfish from third countries is not permitted even if this third country is literally sharing the same waters as the shellfish that EU countries produce.”
A second wrote: “Prime Minister should cut the EU’s fishing quota? by the amount shellfish caught in UK waters. Plus 10 percent.”
The Brexit trade deal will slash EU fishing quotas by 25 percent over the next five years
A third commented: “Stop all EU fishing in our waters.”
Meanwhile, a fourth simply said: “Yes cut it to zero!”
The Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) were previously told the current barriers to trade would be lifted on April 21.
However, last month the European Commission wrote to UK firms to inform them the existing measures would be made permanent.
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An email seen by PoliticsHome sent on January 19, warned it was “strictly forbidden for bivalve molluscs originating from third countries, such as UK”.
It added, “molluscs accompanied by an aquacertificate, wild or from aquaculture, cannot, in any case, reach a depuration centre in the EU”.
Currently, only shellfish caught in “class A” fishing waters – the very cleanest – can be exported from the UK to the EU without the need for purification – but most UK waters are not in this category.
They must also be accompanied by an export health certificate.
Before Brexit, oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops could be processed on arrival to the bloc and then sold for human consumption.
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EU members states are heavily reliant on UK fishing waters
Shellfish catches in the UK were estimated to be worth £393million in 2019.
Rob Benson, co-director of Kingfisher Seafoods, warned an investment of around £1million would be needed on processing equipment, packing and labelling in order to comply with the rules.
The UK Government has confirmed it plans to hold talks with EU officials to ensure trade can continue.
A Defra spokesman said: “Live bivalve molluscs such as oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops can continue to be exported to the EU if they’re harvested from class A waters or cleaned, or have cleared end product testing in the UK.
“We will continue to raise the issue of live bivalve molluscs not ready for human consumption with the EU, to ensure the trade can continue securely.”