Brexit: Boris Johnson's fishing deal slammed by Mummery
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The Government’s decision to rapidly expand areas of the sea covered by wind turbines would further reduce their fishing opportunities, they fear. The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said the “colossal scale of expansion is hard to comprehend” and would “encroach extensively on customary fishing grounds”. Downing Street wants to create 60,000 jobs in offshore wind by 2030 by expanding capacity from 22 gigawatts to 154 gigawatts.
A similar shift to renewable energy is being planned by French President Emmanuel Macron as he hopes to lead the way in the global fight against climate change.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, said: “We’ve already seen displacement effects of fishing boats by wind farms already in place, and this is a massive expansion.”
In a briefing with journalists yesterday, he stressed that both wind farms and the seabed cables connecting them to the grid were shrinking fishing grounds.
Modern turbines are now five times larger than when they were first deployed and are now being constructed over 100km from shore in waters over 50 metres deep.
Mr Deas also accused the Government of “burnishing its green credentials” by creating 40 marine protected areas.
He said the changes had forced Dutch trawlermen into “pristine areas that have never been fished before”.
The NFFO has called for more time to examine what fishing methods were compatible with the environmental goals of such protected areas.
Environmentalists have disputed the fishing lobby’s approach, insisting that the Government’s decision to enforce marine protected areas are “welcome and long overdue”.
Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, said 60 percent of scientifically assessed UK stocks are still being overfished.
He told the FT: “Not all fishing methods are likely to be banned in these offshore protected areas anyway – only the carbon-emitting, habitat-destroying dinosaurs, the dredgers and trawlers that NFFO mostly represents – a large proportion of which are foreign-owned.”
Fishermen have been warned they are facing a decades-long “war of attrition” with Brussels over post-Brexit fishing rights.
The industry warned it expects EU-UK relations to turn “toxic” over access to British coastal waters.
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This will likely see the return of the ugly scenes witnessed off Jersey earlier this year, when the Navy had to be called in to monitor 60 French boats as they descended on the island’s main port.
The post-Brexit fisheries agreement, signed on Christmas Eve last year, deprived France, and other European countries, of a significant part of their catch.
Mr Deas said: “My feeling is that because of the deal, fishing is likely to be politically toxic between the UK and EU for decades to come. The UK has the legal status of a coastal state, but it’s constrained by big-power politics from fully utilising those rights.”
Under the Brexit trade deal, Brussels agreed to hand back 25 percent of the value of fish caught in British waters over a five-and-half-year period.
After June 2026, the UK can slash EU catches further but eurocrats will be able to slap tariffs on fishing products or lock British boats out of the bloc.
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Mr Deas said: “French fishermen clearly were sold on the idea that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement meant no change whatsoever.”
He urged the Government to be steadfast in future wrangling with the bloc over fishing rights after reiterating the industry felt December’s agreement had been a “sell-out”.
Mr Deas argued that the deal had been interpreted by other nations as a sign Downing Street would not stand up for its fishermen.
“The turbulence created has extended to our relations with Norway,” he explained.
“Seeing that the UK gave into the EU, Norway is playing a dangerous game of hardball on mackerel – at some cost to their reputation.”
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