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Brexit negotiations have been stalling because of the unresolved issues of governance, state aid and fisheries, with the latter causing the most friction between the UK and the European Union. While the British Government has maintained strict regulation will have to be applied to cut down on access to EU vessels, Brussels has been pushing for the status quo to be maintained.
Speaking to VOA News, fisherman Michael Campbell said: “If you can’t fish in English waters, then there is no fishing anymore.
“Because 80 percent, sometimes 90 percent of the time, we fish in English waters.”
European fisheries producers’ organizations (EAPO) boss Pim Visser conceded shutting down access to British waters for EU vessels could have “dramatic” consequences for fishing communities depending on catch hailing from the UK.
Mr Visser told a roundtable interview with TRT World noted fisheries across the continents would suffer serious consequences should London and Brussels fail to agree on a deal on the future fish trading arrangements to adopt past the end of the transition period.
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Mr Visser said: “Around 40 percent of our revenues, of the Dutch fleet, is dependent on fish that’s coming from British waters.
“But before moving to British waters, it was born in Danish waters, grew up in Dutch waters and then swam to UK waters.
“There’s North Sea fish that’s being caught in UK waters by coincidence.”
He continued: “That’s about 40 percent but for some fishing communities who have been fishing in UK waters for generations, it’s up to 70-80 percent, and for others is not so important.
“There’s a great divergence but we have fishermen fishing in the Channel and there’s a line right in the middle alongside the French.
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“We’re fishing very peacefully there but it would all change dramatically if the UK waters are closed.”
Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and leading members of the Cabinet have repeatedly warned the EU London will not budge on fisheries.
Mr Gove only last week issued a thinly-veiled warning to Brussels as he said Brexit will allow Britain to impose stricter maritime security rules after December 31, 2020.
Addressing colleagues in the Commons, Mr Gove said: “Under the Common Fisheries Policy it’s not just the case that environmentally we’ve lost out, it’s also the case that the coastal communities have lost out as well.
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“As an independent coastal state, we will be able to rebalance the opportunities in our waters to ensure our coastal communities can benefit more financially.
“And we will replace the European Maritime Fisheries Fund with new funding to ensure there are facilities onshore in order to help with the processing of the fish that we catch.
“And, of course, we will enhance our maritime security capability as well.”
Brexit negotiations have resumed this week, with UK negotiator Lord David Frost travelling to Brussels on Sunday in the hope of breaching the impasse and secure a trade agreement with the bloc before the end of November.
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