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Brexit fisheries row: Warning of ‘war on sea’ as Scots vow ‘tit for tat’ with France

BREXIT rows over fishing could lead to “war on the sea” as a Scottish fisherman urged Boris Johnson to take back control of UK waters.

PUBLISHED: 08:48, Fri, Nov 6, 2020 |

Brexit: Fisheries may be a ‘last minute compromise’ says expert


Brexit trade talks have made little progress with the end of the transition period in December right around the corner. EU negotiator Michel Barnier has told the UK it must open up its fishing grounds to the bloc’s vessels if Britain is to keep access to European markets. This, as well as demands on state aid and other regulation, has led to deadlock between Brussels and London, making a no deal scenario more likely. In April this year, BBC Hardtalk spoke to James Stephen, a Scottish fisherman from Peterhead.

He urged the Government to ensure that control of British waters is taken back.

He said: “To me taking back control is more important than taking back quota.

“We have to manage and control the effort in the UK otherwise I can see our industry being finished.

“They have a right and entitlement to also fish in our waters, but we should get a favourable share.

“We were done a terrible injustice in 1972 when Ted Heath took us into the European Union, we were sold down the river.


“All we are asking, is that injustice is reversed.”

Brexit news:

Brexit news: Macron has pressured Barnier (Image: getty)

Brexit news:

Brexit news: James Stephen (Image: getty)

Mr Stephen added that he would like to see the UK’s quota of 35 percent of fishing stocks doubled.

He said: “I’d like to see a bigger share of the stock, we only take 35 percent at the moment, I’d at least like to see that doubled.

“Norway takes 85 percent of their stocks, Iceland take 90 percent.”

Reporter Stephen Sackur highlighted that French fishermen wouldn’t tolerate such a move.

But the Scottish fishermen responded: “I don’t care, take a look around this coast, there used to be 450 boats at least, now there are only just over 100.

“We have seen our coastal communities decimated, all we are asking is that we get some of it back.”

READ MORE: Johnson has to make ‘painful concessions’ for US trade deal

Brexit news:

Brexit news: He said there will be ‘tit for tat’ (Image: getty)

Mr Sackur highlighted that the French Government is trying to maintain the EU’s hardline on fisheries.

Mr Stephen said that if France takes action against the UK, a “tit for tat” situation will arise.

He added: “Not a single French boat will fish in UK waters if I can’t get a kilo of fish into France. Simple. Tit for tat.”

The presenter said this sounded like “war on the sea”, to which Mr Stephen replied “so be it”.

Brexit news:

Brexit news: UK fishermen mostly voted leave (Image: getty)

Brexit news:

Brexit news: (Image: getty)

In the same documentary, Mr Sackur met with fishing figures from France.

Permanent Representative for Haut de France to the UK, Jean-Paul Mulot warned of blockades from French fishermen.

He told Mr Sackur: “We are in a tough negotiation, and yes fishing is the first dossier on the table and unfortunately it’s not possible for the French to give up like that.

“We know that the fishermen, their reaction is going to blockade in the ports here in Boulogne and probably in Calais which means that will affect the other side of the industry.”

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