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‘We are in total shock!’ UK failure to reach fishing deal with Norway prompts anger

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

(File photo)

The British government’s failure to reach a deal with Norway over fishing rights in sub-Arctic waters will “disastrously” impact the livelihood of British fishermen, the UK Fisheries’s top official says.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, Jane Sandell, the chief executive of UK Fisheries, said the failure to land a fishing access deal with Norway meant that her company would only have 40 percent of the fishing opportunities it had enjoyed in previous years.

In turn, some 100 employees of the organization will lose their jobs, she said. One trawler, responsible for catching 10 percent of all the fish sold in British chip shops, will also be moored for a year.

The UK Fisheries Ltd, based in Hull, employs approximately 100 crew people, and according to Sandell, the British government’s failure to strike an agreement with Norway would be “absolutely devastating” news for those workers and their families.

“We are in total shock,” she said.

Separately in a statement on Thursday, Sandell called the direct impacts of the failure to reach an agreement “a disgrace and a national embarrassment.”

“British politicians have failed to land a single bilateral deal with any of its traditional partners around the North Atlantic – The Faroes, Greenland, Iceland and now Norway,” she said.

“In consequence, there will be no British-caught Arctic cod sold through chippies for our national dish – it will all be imported from the Norwegians, who will continue to sell their fish products to the UK tariff-free while we are excluded from these waters,” she wrote. “Quite simply, this is a disgrace and a national embarrassment.”

She also dismissed the claim that the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) would have positive dividends, a “Brexit Bonus,” for the country.

“The only beneficiaries of Brexit will turn out to be a handful of Scottish pelagic fishing barons,” she said, visibly angrily.

UK Fisheries has invested approximately £180m over the past 20 years in the Humberside fishing industry, planning a further investment of up to £100m, and with the government’s failure to arrange a deal with its partners, the existence of the whole board of UK Fisheries will come under question.

Previously, a spokesperson for the British Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had claimed that the government had offered a “fair deal,” but that the two parties were “too far apart” to reach an agreement this year.

Norwegian sub-Arctic waters are particularly important for British fishing crew. According to the government, UK fleets caught fish worth £32m in Norwegian waters in 2018, a significant amount in comparison to the fishery in other North Atlantic zones.

Given the UK’s departure from the EU, the country is no longer entitled to the privileges offered under the European Common Fisheries Policy, and would have to negotiate with Norway on a separate and annual basis.

The UK and Norway already have a basic post-Brexit agreement on fishing, but annual negotiations are needed to flesh out specific details

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