Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thought to be preparing to act on his threat of walking away from the trade talks without a deal. The talks have reached a stalemate over the authorisation of any future trade agreement, a level-playing field and access to the UK fisheries. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the UK if it wants to access European markets then the bloc wants reciprocal access to its fisheries in exchange.
Yet, keeping the key British industry away from the Common Fisheries Policy was a core argument within the Vote Leave Campaign of 2016.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the UK waters will be “first and foremost for British boats”.
Time to reach a compromise is running out, as Mr Johnson has promised to take the UK out of the EU with or without a deal by December 31 this year.
Journalist David Aaronovitch looked into how the fishing industry was central to the debates regarding a post-Brexit trade deal, and why it was so important to Britain.
Director of Seafish, Hazel Curtis, told the journalist: “It’s evident by the amount of airtime that fishing is getting is that the true value of fishing to the UK economy comes in terms of culture, history and sense of self and our identity as a seafaring nation.
“It’s hard to capture in monetary terms how important that is.”
She added that this was clear from the “political weight” the industry carries, even though it makes up less than half a percent of the UK economy.
She continued: “It’s to do with food and territory and things that are fundamentally important to human life, human existence.
READ MORE: Why Ireland’s fishermen fear ‘unmitigated disaster’
Fisherman Paul Lines told Express.co.uk: “Every year off there is £220million worth of fish, Great Britain takes £7million of that.
“The vast bulk of that goes to Holland.
“However, with zonal attachment £130million is credited to the UK, those are the figures that could be here.”
Marine ecology lecturer Bryce Stewart also told CGTN earlier this week that the EU is unlikely to be happy with any post-Brexit trade deal it gets in regards to fishing.
He said: “The European position from the individual countries and the commission and the chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been that they do not want to change things at all.
“At the moment the European nations have a pretty good deal.”
He said at the moment, EU boats can come up to 12 miles into UK waters.