Some of the adjectives that will be in circulation within the UK fishing industry today, to describe the change in UK quota shares as the UK leaves the EU and the CFP, and the content of what was agreed in Brussels on Christmas eve sinks in. Some of the bell-weather stocks tell the story most vividly, After a further five years adjustment period, the UK’s share of Channel cod will have increased from 9.3% to 10.2%.
The UK’s share of Celtic Sea haddock will have increased from 10% to 20%, leaving 80% in the hands of the EU fleets for a further five years.
North Sea saithe: UK share increases from 23% to 26%, again, in steps over 5 years, leaving the lion’s share in EU hands.
In the meantime, EU fleets have free access to fish in UK waters – including up to six miles of the shoreline in the areas where it matters.
Throughout the fishing industry there is a profound sense of disillusionment, betrayal, and fury that after all the rhetoric, promises and assurances, the Government caved-in on fish.
This was a decision taken at the highest political levels and it is important that responsibility is taken for the choices made. This is no time for spin.
It is unlikely that obstacles in the road will now derail the ratification process, but the fishing industry will want it clearly understood that the best opportunity in a generation for a different and better future has been squandered.