Fishing will not be part of EU trade deal

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Fishing will not be part of EU trade deal
Fishing will not be part of EU trade deal

Related tags Brexit

George Eustice, secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has dismissed claims that fishing will be used as a bargaining chip in the UK’s trade agreement with the EU.

Speaking at the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee today (4 March) Eustice was speaking about access to the UK fisheries post-Brexit.

“We don’t see that as a possibility as they are very separate things,” ​he said. 

“There will be a trade negotiation where we will be seeking access to the EU market, in particular, for shellfish that we export quite a lot, and other sectors such as lamb and barley​.” 

He added that the EU would also be seeking access for food products such as Irish beef, Danish bacon and Dutch poultry and fresh produce from Spain and France.

“There really isn’t a precedent of linking a trade deal with sacrificing and forfeiting your rights as an independent coastal state,”​Eustice added. 

He also explained that the Government has made clear that the UK would be operating as an independent coastal state and would not be aligning itself with the EU. 

“Access is a powerful card. Currently, under EU law, we are only entitled to catch about half the fish that are in our waters,”​he explained. 

“It is the case when we leave the European Union that we will take full control of that resource, and it will be up to us to decide who can access our waters and on what terms.” 

During the session he also explained that it was time to make sense of the current “outdated and unscientific sharing arrangement”​.

“It is the case that under the annual fisheries policy that we have this rather odd situation where the sharing arrangement is set in concrete based on what happened in the late 1970s, which does not really bear much resemblance to where fish stocks are in the modern world or what a fair sharing arrangement would be,” ​he said. 

His comments come as press reports had indicated that one of the Government's most senior officials had suggested that Britain does not need its own farming and fishing industries. In a leaked email, seen by The Mail on Sunday​, it said a Treasury adviser argued that the food sector is not 'critically important' to the economy. 

The issue had raised concern in the House of Lords last week during a parliamentary debate on the Fisheries Bill. 

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering said that “Alarm bells are ringing” ​over the leaked email about the lack of importance “apparently”​attached by the Government to farming and, potentially, to fisheries. 


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