Press release – 19 December 2020
EU must not stand idly by and sacrifice fishing industry – EUFA aghast at proposal to throw fisheries ‘under the bus’
The European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) has implored the European Commission to honour the commitment made to the fishing sector in the mandate given to EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier.
Having invested more than four years in ensuring that fisheries remained at the very heart of the talks, EUFA chairman, Gerard van Balsfoort said that all that work is now in serious jeopardy.
Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman of the European Fisheries Alliance stated: “The shape of a deal, as currently stands would give a huge blow to the European seafood sector which is made up more than 18,000 fishermen and 3,500 vessels with an annual turnover €20.7billion. Our industry is literally and metaphorically on the brink and in spite of repeated promises made, we are in the throes of being sold down the river with the offer made to the United Kingdom by the European Commission. The more so when the fisheries negotiations with the UK are intended to start all over again after only 6 or 7 years.
“The one thing we wanted to avoid was a ‘no-deal’ situation in the interests of all our fishermen but the deal which is now being proposed is every bit as bad. We are looking at vicious and unprecedented cuts on a wide range of stocks including our pelagic, shellfish and whitefish sectors.
“This is galling and if the European Commission doesn’t stand up for its fishermen and honour its written agreement made during the arduous Brexit negotiations, it could spell the death knell for large parts of an industry which has contributed so much to coastal communities across nine EU states. Our fishermen must be protected as they risk life and limb to provide fresh food in the most unforgiving environment on earth.
“While our industry has faced down many serious challenges down through the years and has proven itself to be resilient, versatile and determined, this is a desperate slap in the face and potentially the single-biggest and most catastrophic setback of our time.”
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* Pelagic stocks consist of mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and herring while whitefish includes cod, haddock, whiting, monkfish, megrim, hake, plaice, sole and prawns (langoustines).