Sustainability campaigners criticise UK-EU fishing deal

A brand new fishing deal between the UK and EU threatens the sustainability of weak fish shares and goes in opposition to worldwide scientific tips, environmental campaigners have mentioned.

The accord, the third signed by London and Brussels since Brexit, is a part of an settlement to steadily improve the share of shares allotted to UK fishing boats in shared waters.

Beneath the deal, the UK fishing business might be allowed to catch 140,000 tonnes of fish value greater than £280mn in 2023, the federal government mentioned on Tuesday. Whereas the allocation stays the identical as this yr’s, its anticipated worth is down from £294mn.

“These catch limits present that the mismanagement of UK and EU seas is ready to proceed,” mentioned Charles Clover, government director of the Blue Marine Basis, an ocean conservation charity.

He added that the allotted catch limits for half of the shared shares have been above the sustainable degree suggested by scientists, he added.

“A number of the limits agreed are higher than final yr . . . however it’s clear that the events have once more agreed to permit important and demonstrable overfishing within the face of scientific proof and their very own legal guidelines.

“We have been assured repeatedly that this is able to not occur after Brexit. Nicely, get up everybody, it’s occurring,” mentioned Clover.

Oceana, a charity, mentioned each side had allowed west of Scotland cod, Irish Sea whiting, and Celtic Sea herring, amongst others, to be overfished.

“Whereas each events adhered to the science for some shares, we deeply remorse their incapability to take the suitable resolution for shares within the poorest conservation state,” mentioned Vera Coelho, senior director of advocacy at Oceana in Europe.

“Overfishing is decimating fish populations in UK and European Union waters. Cod numbers within the Celtic Sea, Irish Sea and off the west of Scotland have plummeted over time and are vulnerable to collapse if pressing motion isn’t taken,” she mentioned.

Beneath the deal, the EU fleet can land 350,000 tonnes of fish, estimated to be value about €1bn primarily based on historic costs adjusted for inflation, in response to the European Fee.

The distribution of fishing quotas, agreed when the UK left the bloc in January 2020, is mounted. Nonetheless the overall catch allocations are negotiated yearly after taking scientific recommendation. The Commerce and Cooperation Settlement signed in 2020 ensures the UK share will increase by 25 per cent in 2021-26.

The UK mentioned that “wherever potential” catch ranges have been set in keeping with, or decrease than, the extent suggested by scientists on the Worldwide Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

The proportion of catch ranges that align with Ices’ suggestions has elevated by an estimated 13 proportion factors in comparison with final yr, exhibiting a modest enchancment in efforts to fulfill environmental limits.

In 2022, the catch limits for 65 per cent of the shared fisheries have been set above scientific steerage, falling to 52 per cent this yr.

UK fisheries minister Mark Spencer mentioned: “Our settlement with the EU secures worthwhile fishing alternatives for the UK fishing business whereas cementing our joint dedication to handle fisheries sustainably.

“These choices are primarily based on the most recent scientific recommendation to assist shield key fish shares with the long-term well being of the marine atmosphere on the forefront of our minds,” he mentioned.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU atmosphere commissioner, mentioned: “In the present day’s deal will safe fishing alternatives for fishermen and girls, and assist the livelihood of coastal communities.”

He added: “It should advance the sustainable use of shared marine dwelling assets, present certainty for our fishers for the yr forward and set up a powerful foundation for continued co-operation in fisheries administration with the UK”.

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