Fishing has been a contentious point in Brexit talks, with the UK highly critical of the EU’s longstanding Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which allows member states to fish in each others’ waters based on a quota system set by the bloc. The EU’s own mandate for trade talks says the UK and Brussels should fix a long-term deal on access to each others’ waters in exchange for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), but the UK is pressing for annual talks to set those quotas – with the ability to block EU vessels if those discussions break down. France is one of many nations dependent on British fishing grounds and before the negotiations even started, it was Emmanuel Macron”s government who had made clear to Mr Barnier that he had to push for stronger commitments on regulatory alignments in return for maintaining free trade.
In March, Mr Macron said he was willing to put up a fight over the issue.
At the end of the third round of talks, conducted via video conference this week, David Frost, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, said both sides were no closer to an agreement.
He said: “The EU continues to insist on fisheries arrangements and access to UK fishing waters in a way that is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state.
He then described the EU’s proposals as “manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the UK fishing industry”.
Mr Frost added: “We very much need a change in EU approach for the next round.”
As tensions are set to rise, in report for the Brexit think tank ‘Red Cell’ titled ‘Putting The Fisheries Negotiations Into Context’ and published in March, Dimitri de Vismes, delegate for the French UPR party in the UK, explained just how much France’s fishing industry is dependent on UK waters.
He wrote: “The UK has the fifth largest exclusive economic zone in the world (approximately 6.8m square kilometres) and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surrounding the United Kingdom represents 11 percent of the total surface, with some 774,000 square kilometres (the rest being EEZs in Crown dependencies or British Overseas Territories).
“Putting aside Norway, which is outside of EU marine management, the UK EEZ is the greatest ‘shared’ EEZ operating under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in Northern Europe.
JUST IN: Real reason Asia made success of 2008 financial crash revealed
“By comparison, France’s EEZ in Continental Europe represents about half the size of the United Kingdom’s EEZ, with approx. 335,000 square kilometres, despite France having the second largest EEZ zone in the world – approximately 10.2million square kilometres – because of its numerous territories and overseas departments on all the oceans.
“UK waters are also particularly rich of seafood resource, as 40 percent of the total EU catches take place in the UK’s EEZ but mainly exploited by UK’s neighbour countries.”
Because of these factors, and the geographical proximity between the two countries, Mr de Vismes noted, France’s fishing industry is now “heavily dependent” on UK waters.
He added: “In fact, out of the three main traditional fishing regions: Normandy, Brittany and Hauts-de-France – which all together represent 75 percent of the French fishing industry – two of them (Brittany and Hauts-de-France) rely on the UK waters for more than 50 percent of their catches.
How Brussels did NOT save stocks but crushed UK fishing [INSIGHT]
EU’s identity crisis exposed: How bloc is surviving with crippling dil [REVEALED]
Carswell picks out Blair as reason behind EU’s stubbornness [EXCLUSIVE]
“Overall, it is estimated that France receives approximately 30 percent of its catches in the UK’s EEZ.
“This explains why the absence of a good fishing agreement post-Brexit could be very damaging for French fishermen.
“As it would also be for Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Germany which are all fishing in UK waters.”