Published On: Tue, Mar 24th, 2020

Brexit confession: Fears UK fishermen ‘could be sold down river’ in trade talks exposed | UK | News

The fearful statement was made by Cornish fish seller Elizabeth Stevenson, who hit out at the EU‘s “unfair” benefit from British waters. She also expressed fears that British fishermen’s interests would be ignored in the Brexit process. She told MarketPlace in 2017: “Other European Union countries take £400million worth of fish from our waters. We take £100million from their waters. It is really very, very unfair.”

“As an industry, we’ve been sold down the river so many times in the past. I am very fearful.”

Ms Stevenson did say that she didn’t vote leave, stating that she was not sure the country as a whole would be better off by departing the EU even if fisheries would benefit.

She added: “I was not convinced that we could get a better deal out than we have in.”

However, fishermen and business owner Jeremy Hosking outlined in the same interview why he did back Brexit, hitting out at the lack of control the UK has over its waters under the Common Fisheries Policy.

He said: “We see better things ahead. We can see a better future as a result of Brexit.

“For the first time in my fishing career, I feel that we have a chance to put things right. Because of the way the EU has regulated fishing, the British fishermen and this community has suffered. We are the underdogs in our own waters.”

While most UK fishermen look forward to the conclusion of trade talks with the EU, Brexit is creating fear for many businesses on the French coast.

In July 2016, just one month after the UK voted to leave the EU and its Common Fisheries Policy, French fishermen fumed as they feared they could lose up to 80 percent of their stocks.

Jean-Pierre Le Visage of the Scapeche company, a leading fishing vessel owner in France, said in 2016: “If we’re talking about the nationalisation of British waters, we would lose 70 to 80 percent of our volumes.”

French boats, under the CFP, are allowed to fish up to six nautical miles from the British coast in many areas but EU laws largely prevent British vessels from fishing within 12 miles of the French coast.

READ MORE:How France fears Brexit could cause ‘end of French fishing’ 

In current talks, the EU27 has agreed to its red lines on Brexit trade talks while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take back control of British waters.

Brussels has maintained a deal between the UK and EU can only happen if Mr Johnson grants the bloc access to British waters.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a press conference recently that fishing rights must be included in the deal or there “won’t be any agreement at all”.

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