MICHAEL Gove has dismissed angry arguments by UK fishermen that the post-Brexit trade agreement signed with the EU would make them worse off.
Boris Johnson has been accused by fishing representatives of “betraying” the industry by reaching an agreement on potential fishing rights in British waters with Brussels.
The Cabinet Office Minister, however, maintained that a greater share of fish in British waters would be obtained and that share could rise over time.
“It is fair to say that we are in a stronger position than we were in the EU and in the Common Fisheries Policy,”It is fair to say that we are in a stronger position than we were in the EU and the common fisheries policy.
We could only access about 50 percent of the fish in our waters under the Common Fisheries Policy. It is the case that we are now seeing a substantial increase in that amount, so we will have about two-thirds of the fish in our waters by 2026.
“This phased process gives us the opportunity to grow the fleet, invest in our coastal communities, and of course we’ll have the opportunity to increase the quota even further in due course.”
Andrew Locker, president of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations, said, however, that as a result of the deal, the sector would be “absolutely worse off”
“I am angry, disappointed and betrayed,”I am angry, disappointed and betrayed. “Boris Johnson promised us the rights to all the fish that swim in our exclusive economic zone, and we’ve only gotten a fraction of that.”
“He continued, “We are worse off, totally. We traded fish with the European Union while we were in the EU. We traded stuff we didn’t use for fish they didn’t use, and that made it possible for us to have an annual plan for fishing.
“What we’ve got now is a fraction of what we were promised with Brexit. We’re going to really, really fight this year.”
Mr. Locker said, “When Boris Johnson and his government promised fishermen Brexit, he promised that none of us would be worse off. There are a significant number of fishermen – small families, small communities – who are absolutely worse off as a result of this deal.”