Boris Johnson ‘sacrificed’ Britain’s fishing industry to get deal with EU, fishermen say

National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations warns of ‘anger and frustration’

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 25 December 2020 09:30 GMT
Boris Johnson accused of 'mis-selling' Brexit deal

Boris Johnson has sacrificed Britain's fishing industry to get a Brexit trade deal with the EU, industry leaders have said.

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said there would be "frustration and anger" about the agreement reached in Brussels this afternoon, which he said contained "significant concessions".

Under the agreement reached with Brussels, there would be a five-year transition period during which little would change, for EU fishermen to adjust to fishing less in British waters.

But after this, the EU catch would reduced by just 25 per cent, compared to a much higher 60 per cent cut the UK was asking for even until the last week of the negotiations.

It is also believed the UK failed to negotiate an exclusion of EU fishing fleets from its exclusive 12 mile economic zone, as it had been pushing for.

Mr Johnson spoke at length to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen this week in discussions that are understood to have been key to signing an agreement.

"In the end it was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing," Mr Deas of the NFFO told the PA news agency.

"The broad feeling is that the UK has made significant concessions on fish in order to secure a trade deal. I think the industry will be extremely disappointed.

"We have secured increases in quota from the EU but they don't come anywhere close to what our entitlement is in international law.

"So I think there will be frustration and anger across the industry about that."

The NFFO had been consistently supportive of the government's approach during negotiations.

In a separate statement, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said that Brexit meant the sector would now face the reality of "lots more red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork".

"We are pleased the negotiators have at last secured a deal. This will alleviate some of the serious problems that would come from a 'no deal' Brexit," SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said.

"But we still have concerns. The disruption at the Channel right now is hitting our members' ability to export.

"Brexit means the Scottish salmon sector now face the reality of lots more red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork which are the reality of the extra trade barriers which come with Brexit."

Mr Johnson had earlier turned up to his press conference wearing a fish-themed tie and told reporters: "For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters."

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