The EU want to keep access to British waters post-Brexit, but UK fishermen have fumed at the economic imbalance that has ensued from the Common Fisheries Policy.
The furious statement came from Cornish fish seller Elizabeth Stevenson a she highlighted how the EU benefit from British waters while some UK fishermen feel aggrieved. In a 2017 interview with Market Place, she said: “Other European Union countries take £400million worth of fish from our waters. We take £100million from their waters. It is really very, very unfair. “As an industry, we’ve been sold down the river so many times in the past. I am very fearful.”
Ms Stevenson refers here to statistics from a study conducted by the University of the Highlands and Islands’ NAFC Marine Centre.
It found that boats from other EU countries on average caught 58 percent of the fish and shellfish landed from UK waters between 2012 and 2014.
This equates to around 650,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth more than £400million per year, most of which was caught around Scotland.
In contrast, UK fishing boats fishing elsewhere in EU waters landed on average 90,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth about £100million.
According to NAFC Marine Centre’s data, UK vessels land 32 percent of fish in its waters, while EU states combined take 43 percent.
Norway, which is not an EU member state, takes 21 percent.
Between 2012-2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.
Although Ms Stevenson did not vote leave, others in Cornwall expressed similar anger at European fishermen entering British waters.
Fishermen and business owner Jeremy Hosking outlined in the same interview why he did back Brexit, hitting out at the lack of control the UK has over its waters under the Common Fisheries Policy.
He said: “We see better things ahead. We can see a better future as a result of Brexit.
“For the first time in my fishing career, I feel that we have a chance to put things right. Because of the way the EU has regulated fishing, the British fishermen and this community has suffered. We are the underdogs in our own waters.”
While in the Common Fisheries Policy, the UK permits EU vessels to fish up to six miles off of the British coastline.
This provoked many fishermen to vote leave in the 2016 referendum, hoping to regain control of their waters.
In current talks, the EU27 has agreed to its red lines on Brexit trade talks while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take back control of British waters.
Brussels has maintained a deal between the UK and EU can only happen if Mr Johnson grants the bloc access to British waters.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a press conference recently that fishing rights must be included in the deal or there “won’t be any agreement at all”.