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Brexit fishing standoff: UK warned of fishing ‘conflict’ with French if trade talks fail

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Political expert and professor Liam Campling warned the UK could have “cod wars” with European nations over fishing rights post-Brexit. While speaking to Talk Europe, Professor Campling claimed a fishing deal needed to be reached between the UK and EU quickly. He argued if a satisfactory deal was not met there could be significant diplomatic incidents that follow between the UK and other countries.

Professor Campling said: “Have you heard of the cod wars of the 1970s?

“So it was where the British and Icelandic were being quite aggressive.

“I expect there will be significant diplomatic incidents around fishing in the medium to longterm.”

Professor Campling argued fishing had become a divisive issue in the Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU. 

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He noted that escalation could be expected if a satisfactory agreement is not reached.

He continued: “If the Europeans and British can’t reach some kind of agreement on this then French fishermen will just go and fish anyway.

“They will claim long-term historic access rights which they have the same as the Danish.

“The same way the British will claim this is our sovereign right under the law of the sea.

“Basically it is a quite an ambiguous legal area.

“Because of that ambiguity, it is a basis for conflict.”

Professor Campling also reiterated the importance of cooperation between the UK and EU on the nuances of fishing regulations post-Brexit.

He said: “The problem where be where there is a straddling stock or a shared stock like cod.

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“They move between the waters of the UK’s exclusive economic zone and the EU’s waters.

“They will have to enter into some kind of international set up where they govern that cooperatively.

“In principle that won’t be a problem now as that kind of happens already with the EU and Norway.

“The tuna flows through all the exclusive economic zones and they just cooperate.”

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