Under the trade deal agreed by Boris Johnson at the end of last year, the EU’s share of the catch from British waters will fall by 25 percent in stages over the next five years. Following the end of that fishing transition period in June 2026, both sides will hold talks annually to discuss access. But UK fishermen have complained of having to fight their way through bureaucratic red tape that has smothered them following Brexit
Alistair Carmichael, who has been the Liberal Democrat MP for major coastal continency Orkney and Shetland for the past 20 years, has issued a “call for evidence” ahead of a parliamentary debate on the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry on July 13.
He and SNP MSP Angus MacNeil are leading the debate which will review the consequences of Brexit for businesses after six months, and to present a wide range of concerns and challenges raised by fishermen, processors and exporters during that time.
During negotiations with the EU, Mr Johnson insisted he would do everything they could to protect UK fishermen after concerns were raised by the industry.
Mr Carmichael told Express.co.uk: “This debate is long overdue – it’s been very frustrating in Parliament the Government has got away with murder as far as fishing is concerned.
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Brexit news: The UK and EU signed a trade deal at the end of last year
“They continue to insist the problems the fleet, processors and exporters are facing are some sort of teething problems.
“We’re six months down the line from these new arrangements but it is clear there are systemic problems that are going to have to be dealt with.
“The point of this debate is to look the fishing minister in the eye and confront him with the reality of what fishing communities are having to deal with.”
The Liberal Democrat MP added: “The purpose of this debate is we want to give the industry a voice because the industry has been used and those having to deal with this at the sharp end has now got to be heard.
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“We put out a call for evidence, and I have received emails expressing frustration from fishermen in Cornwall, east coast, processors in Peterhead, small boats on the west coast of Scotland.
“The industry is desperate – never mind what they were promised – but they have just been abandoned by their own Governments.”
Mr Carmichael highlighted a number of complaints UK fishermen have made to him, including in-year quota swaps, which he said is “still to hit”.
He added: “Boris Johnson secured a quota which was higher than the base we had in the CFP but lower than we actually got because we bought in or swapped quota with other EU countries.
Brexit news: UK fishermen have expressed their frustrations at the Government
Brexit news: The UK fishing industry is pushing the Government for answers over issues they are facing
“With North Sea Cod, our entitlement under the old rules was 52 percent.
“Boris Johnson had come back with 57 percent, but that previous 52 percent we had pushed up to 62 percent and because you are out of the EU, you don’t have access to private quota swaps like that.
“There is no provision in the deal for in-year quota swaps.
“Downing Street has said they can do all of this Government-to-Government rather than fishing boat-to-fishing boat.
“That was in January and we’re now in July and yet there is still no clarity on this.”
Mr Carmichael went on to add UK fishermen have felt “let down” by the a Government that had promised them a “sea of opportunity” but had only delivered “red tape and disappointment”.
The Liberal Democrat MP concluded: “Any responsible government would conduct a public review of its policy decisions on fishermen.
“Absent any such accounting, it is up to us to take ministers to task and demand answers on what has become quite a comprehensive range of failures on fishing.