Brexit comes to Lorient

Published by FiskerForum, 23-10-2017 · info@fiskerforum.dk

‘You’re a brave man, James,’ said Gérard Romiti, president of France’s CNPMEM fishermen’s organisation, speaking to SWFPO chief executive Jim Portus at a Brexit round table held in Lorient during last week’s Itech’Mer exhibition.

The discussion chaired by Nicolas Teisseire was between Alain Cadec, who chairs the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries, Gérard Romiti of CNPMEM, Jim Portus, Brittany, regional councillor Gaël le Saout, Javier Touza for Bluefish and Gerard van Balsfoort representing the European Fisheries Alliance.

Jim Portus made plain the UK industry’s point of view, while Alain Cadec made it plain that his role is to defend the interests of European fishermen as a number of angles of the UK’s expected departure from the CFP were talked through, with clear differences of opinion – notably on the UK determination to treat fishing access and market access as separate issues, while the European position is that the two are closely linked and must be treated as such.

The point was made that currently nine member states that take 42% of the volume caught in British waters, while UK fishermen take 22% of their catches in community waters and the UK exports 65% of its landings to Europe

‘Any politician would look at these figures, 42%, 22% and 65%, and say there’s a compromise to be reached here,’ Gerard van Balsfoort said, adding that this event was the first time that the industry has discussed the implications of Brexit, even though there is so much communication and co-operation in other fields.

While there are clear differences of opinion there, if there was one point that every speaker could agree on, it was that fishing must not become a pawn in wider negotiations.

‘It is vital that fishing should be part of an exit agreement. If we have to deal with this later, it will be much worse,’ Gerard van Balsfoort said. ‘If there’s a trade deal and fishing has to be dealt with afterwards, we will have total uncertainty.’

‘I agree that fishing has to be part of the package as a whole,’ Alain Cadec said. ‘I’m trying to be optimistic, but I’m worried.’

Look out for the full report in Hook & Net later this week.

Source: H&N

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