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World

PM sold out fish in Brexit trade deal, fishermen say

  • British fishermen said on Saturday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sold out fish stocks to the European Union with a Brexit trade deal that gives EU boats significant access to the United Kingdom’s rich fishing waters.
  • The United Kingdom will leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy on Dec. 31, but under the trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve the current rules will remain largely in place during a 5-1/2-year transition period.
Published December 28, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - British fishermen said on Saturday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sold out fish stocks to the European Union with a Brexit trade deal that gives EU boats significant access to the United Kingdom’s rich fishing waters.

Some British politicians also said the deal added up to a sell-out.

The United Kingdom will leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy on Dec. 31, but under the trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve the current rules will remain largely in place during a 5-1/2-year transition period. After that period, there will be annual consultations to establish the level and conditions for EU access to British waters.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said the fishing industry had been sacrificed by Johnson. For example, it said, the UK’s share of Celtic Sea haddock will increase to 20% from 10%, leaving 80% in the hands of EU fleets for a further five years.

“In the end-game, the prime minister made the call and caved in on fish, despite the rhetoric and assurances,” the group said. “There will of course be an extensive public relations exercise to portray the deal as a fabulous victory, but it will inevitably be seen by the fishing industry as a defeat.”

Most British businesses have made preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said on Monday, adding it was important they were ready for changes to trading and regulatory rules.

Asked if businesses were ready for the end of the transition period on Dec. 31, when Britain finally leaves the European Union’s customs union and single market, Gove said: “Yes. The overwhelming majority of businesses have been getting ready, absolutely.”

“I think business is broadly in a good place but inevitably with any change, with any transition, there are occasional bumpy moments.”

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