Fishing must be a priority in Brexit talks, say European fishing communities
Representatives of European fishing communities came together this week, sending a strong message to the European Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament, calling on these institutions to make fisheries a priority in the Brexit negotiations and to safeguard the economic and social future of European fishing and coastal communities.
The meeting took place at Santiago de Compostela as fishing communities set to be most affected by the UKâ€™s withdrawal from the EU and the CFP came together to make a joint statement.
â€˜The economic prosperity of coastal communities in European regions and countries bordering the Atlantic and the North Sea is closely linked to our relationship with the United Kingdom,â€™ they state.
â€˜We have shared resources and fishing grounds with our British colleagues. We note with concern that the planned departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has created considerable uncertainty for the fisheries sector and for the coastal communities that the sector supports. These are communities that â€“ for the most part â€“ are already facing significant homegrown socio-economic challenges, independent of Brexit, such as maintaining sustainable employment and avoiding depopulation.â€™
The partners also note with concern that many British policymakers and fisheries professionals have signalled their intention to move away from a fisheries management model based on co-operation and from the acknowledgment of their economic interdependence.
â€˜Many appear to see Brexit as an opportunity to exclude European fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds. Continued access to those waters is of fundamental importance for the survival and continued prosperity of our coastal communities,â€™ a spokesman said.
â€˜We also note with concern that many in the UK see Brexit as an opportunity to unilaterally alter the distribution of catch quota; a distribution arrangement that has allowed our economic prosperity and has been the basis for sustainable management of our shared fish stocks.â€™
â€˜We call upon European decision-makers to take into account the challenges faced by coastal communities in Europe. We call upon them to uphold the principle of reciprocity in trade relationships so as to make access to European markets for British seafood products conditional on access to fishing grounds for our fleets.â€™
The joint statement sets out that European decision-makers need to work to support fishing communities all across Europe by upholding shared values.
â€˜We ask these decision makers to aim for an agreement that will guarantee long-term economic prosperity for our communities and sustainable management of fish stocks.â€™
â€˜European fishing communities will be the first to experience the new relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The future social and economic prosperity of our communities â€“ and the fishing industry â€“ will depend on European policymakers approaching the issue rationally, sensibly and with an understanding of the shared history of European fisheries in mind.â€™
â€˜We stand here today, united in a common purpose to ensure that fisheries is a priority in the Brexit negotiations and to safeguard the social and economic future of our fishing communities and fishing industry.â€™
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