UK-EU fishing deal criticised by sustainability campaigners

A new fishing deal between the UK and EU threatens vulnerable fish stocks, sustainability campaigners have said.

The accord is the third between the two sides since Brexit, which gradually increased the share of stocks allocated to UK fishing boats.

“These catch limits show that the mismanagement of UK and EU seas is set to continue,” said Charles Clover, executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation.

“Some of the limits agreed are better than last year when 65 per cent were set above scientific advice, but it is clear that the parties have again agreed to allow significant and demonstrable overfishing in the face of scientific evidence and their own laws.

“We were assured repeatedly that this would not happen after Brexit. Well, wake up everyone, it is happening.”

He said cod in the Celtic Sea and west of Scotland were examples of overfished stocks.

The UK fishing industry will be allowed to catch 140,000 tonnes of fish worth more than £280mn in 2023 under the deal, the government said. That is the same level as this year, but a reduction in value from £313mn.

The EU fleet can land 350,000 tonnes, estimated to be worth about €1bn based on historic landing prices, adjusted for inflation, according to the European Commission.

The deal concerns how much fish can be caught. The distribution of fishing quotas was already agreed when the UK left the bloc in January. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed in 2020 ensures that the UK share increases by 25 per cent between 2021-26.

UK fisheries minister Mark Spencer said: “Our agreement with the EU secures valuable fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry while cementing our joint commitment to manage fisheries sustainably.

“These decisions are based on the latest scientific advice to help protect key fish stocks with the long-term health of the marine environment at the forefront of our minds.”

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