Fisheries have been a contentious point in Brexit talks, with the UK being very critical of the EU’s long-standing Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which allows member states to fish in their respective waters on the basis of a quota system fixed by the bloc. EU mandate for trade talks says UK and Brussels should reach long-term access to their respective waters in exchange for free trade agreement (FTA), but UK – Uni is pressing for annual negotiations to fix these quotas – with the possibility of blocking EU vessels if these talks fail. France is one of the many nations dependent on British fishing zones and even before the start of negotiations, it was the government of Emmanuel Macron who made it clear to Barnier that he had to press for commitments stronger on regulatory alignments in exchange for maintaining free trade. .
At the end of the third round of talks, conducted by videoconference this week, David Frost, the chief Brexit negotiator for the UK, said the two sides were no closer to a deal.
He said: “The EU continues to insist on British fisheries agreements and access to British fisheries waters in a way that is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state.
He then called the EU’s proposals “manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the British fishing industry”.
Frost added: “We badly need a change in approach to the EU for the next cycle. “
As tensions increase, in a report for the Brexit think tank “Red Cell” entitled “Putting the fisheries negotiations in context” and published in March, Dimitri de Vismes, delegate of the French UPR party in the United Kingdom. Uni, explained how much the French fishing industry depends on British waters.
He wrote: “The UK has the fifth largest exclusive economic zone in the world (approximately 6.8 million square kilometers) and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding the United Kingdom accounts for 11% of the total area, with some 774,000 square kilometers (the others being EEZs of Crown Dependencies or British Overseas Territories).
“Apart from Norway, which is not part of the EU’s marine management, the British EEZ is the largest” shared “EEZ” operating within the framework of the common fisheries policy (CFP) in Northern Europe .
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“In comparison, France’s EEZ in continental Europe accounts for about half of the UK’s EEZ, with around 335,000 square kilometers, although France has the second largest EEZ area in the world – around 10.2 million square kilometers – due to its many territories. and overseas departments on all oceans.
“British waters are also particularly rich in seafood resources, as 40 percent of the total EU catch takes place in the UK’s EEZ but is mainly exploited by neighboring countries. “
Because of these factors and the geographic proximity between the two countries, noted de Vismes, the French fishing industry is now “heavily dependent” on British waters.
He added: “In fact, of the three main traditional fishing regions: Normandy, Brittany and Hauts-de-France – which together represent 75% of the French fishing industry – two of them ( Brittany and Hauts-de-France) depend on British waters for more than 50 percent of their catches.
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“Overall, it is estimated that France receives around 30% of its catches in the EEZ of the United Kingdom.
“This explains why the absence of a good fisheries agreement after Brexit could be very damaging for French fishermen.
“As with Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Germany, all of which fish in British waters. “