The UK and EU have agreed a fisheries deal that will set TACs for jointly managed stocks for 2021, reports Tim Oliver.
It will allow vital quota exchanges between the two sides this year, and clarifies access limits for non-quota species.
DEFRA said an agreement ‘in principle’ had been made and would ‘set out full details in the formal written record of negotiations in the coming days’.
The two sides have been talking since January, and the long-awaited deal was finalised after a ‘productive’ phone call last Wednesday afternoon between DEFRA secretary of state George Eustice and EU commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
George Eustice said: “I can confirm we have reached agreement in principle for fisheries arrangements for 2021.
“While reaching an agreement has been challenging, our aim throughout these fisheries negotiations has been to safeguard the sustainability of our fish stocks and seek an agreement that respects our new status and works for the UK fishing industry.
“As a responsible independent coastal state, we are committed to co-operating with our closest coastal state partners, and we look forward to continuing discussions in the specialised committee on fisheries.”
The agreement closes the first-ever annual consultations on fishing opportunities between the EU and the UK under the terms of the Brexit Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).
The European Commission said the successful conclusion of the negotiations ‘creates a strong basis for continued EU-UK co-operation in the area of fisheries’.
“Today’s agreement in principle on the management of key shared stocks secures the fishing rights of both the EU and the UK fleets in both the EU and the UK waters until the end of 2021, as foreseen under the TCA,” said the Commission.
“It establishes the TACs for 75 shared fish stocks for 2021, as well as for some deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022. It also provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species. The signing of the agreement, expected in the coming days, will also enable both parties to engage in quota exchanges.”
EU fisheries commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said: “Today we reached a deal with the UK on fishing opportunities under the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement. This agreement provides predictability and continuity for our fleets with definitive TACs for the remainder of the year.
“This is good for fishermen and women, our coastal communities and our ports, as well as for the sustainable use of our marine resources. This also proves that two partners on both sides of the Channel can find agreements and move forward if they work together.”
Industry leaders were anticipating a full briefing on the deal in the near future.
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