Danish Govt. intends to keep fishing rights after Brexit
2017-04-19 11:57:40   copyfrom:    hits:

Anders Samuelsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Photo: Finn Årup Nielsen CC BY-SA 4 0)DENMARKWednesd
 

Anders Samuelsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. (Photo: Finn Årup Nielsen/CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

 

Danish government officials intend to potentially challenge the UK government over fishing rights in the seas around Britain post Brexit in an attempt to have the right of its fleet to fish shared stocks of species such as cod, herring, mackerel, plaice and sand eel recognised.

It is estimated that these stocks make up 40 per cent of the Danish fishermen’s annual take and some communities are economically dependent on access to UK waters.

“Danish fishermen have historically been fishing across the North Sea. The common fisheries policy in the EU has regulated this, based on historical rights and preserving our common stocks that don’t follow economic zones,” pointed out Denmark’s foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, in statements to the British newspaper The Guardian.

“Clearly, this is very important for many fishing communities especially along the Jutland coast, and we all put our full support behind the EU’s negotiators to find the best way forward,” the minister added.

The Danish position is likely to be mirrored by the seven other member states who will be affected if the UK seeks to limit access to its waters to EU fleets after 2019.

The issue took on added urgency for Europe’s fishing communities last October, when the UK’s fisheries minister, George Eustice, promised British fishermen, who have long claimed to have suffered under the EU’s common fisheries policy, hundreds of thousands tonnes of more fish when the UK leaves the union.

About a third of the catch of all European fishing fleets is from British waters and the industry estimates that a loss of access would lead to a reduction of about 50 per cent in European fleets’ net profit and the loss of 6,000 full-time jobs.

Copenhagen plans to point to the UN convention on the law of the sea, which instructs states to respect the “traditional fishing rights” of adjacent countries within sovereign waters. The UK and Denmark are both signatories.

The so-called London convention on fisheries, which European states including the UK and Denmark signed in 1964, also recognises historical rights of access to the waters of the UK.

In this regard, FIS.com received statements from ClientEarth, whose fisheries scientist Liane Veitch said: “Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea the UK and Denmark must cooperate over shared fish stocks and fishing areas, stating all EU signatories are bound by the same law.

The entity emphasised that beyond this legal requirement, an end to joint management would be in no one’s interest. It could lead to the setting of unilateral quotas, catches higher than scientific advice and overexploitation of resources. Besides, it stated that fishing at unsustainable levels ultimately leads to smaller catches, and less fish for everyone.

Client Earth insists that two-thirds of UK fish exports go to the EU, with no tariffs and no trade barriers. The NGO believes that closing UK waters to Danish or EU vessels would almost certainly end these free exports.

“With UK exports to the EU worth GBP 1 billion annually, this is something we can little afford,” pointed out the entity’s representatives.

On the other hand, the Danish government also believes the quota system in the common fisheries policy provides evidence of historical rights, given they are based on traditional fishing patterns.

Niels Wichmann, the chief executive of the Danish fishermen’s association, which holds a place on the Danish ministry of food’s Brexit taskforce, said: “We have a common sea basin where we can fish. We have always had that.

Wichmann also said the EU should threaten to block the sale of British fish on the continent unless the UK sticks to the status quo on access and quota shares, a position shared by the European parliament’s fisheries committee.

For his part, Ukip’s fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, said: “For me, the fact that some EU nations are preparing to take the UK to court over fishing rights highlights just how much of our marine resources have been stolen during 40 years of the EU’s common fisheries policy.”

The amount of fish that can be taken from the seas around EU member states is set each year under the policy on the basis of scientific advice to ensure sustainability. Within the total take, quotas based on the fishing activities of member states during a five-year period in the 1970s are enforced.

The UK has never formally challenged the quotas, and Danish officials have told the Guardian they believe historical fishing patterns which should be respected at a time when fish stocks in EU waters have rarely been in a healthier state.

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