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Brexit threat: ‘Acute fear’ UK fishermen at risk of being sold off in UK-EU trade deal

FEARS of UK fishermen losing out in a trade deal between the UK and Brussels continue to mount as Boris Johnson’s battle to regain full access to British fishing waters is at risk of being squashed by the EU27’s national parliaments, claimed former adviser to Theresa May Lord Gavin Barwell.

PUBLISHED: 09:38, Tue, Jan 21, 2020 | UPDATED: 09:41, Tue, Jan 21, 2020

Brexit: Expert discusses ‘fear of fishing industry being traded off’ 


The newly appointed Tory peer told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme it will be “very difficult” for the UK Government to fight for fishermen across the country if national parliaments of EU member states refuse to ratify any post- trade deal that will see them losing access to fishing waters. He warned: “The EU doesn’t believe that we can do the entire future relationship by the summer. And therefore we’re going to have to prioritise and my fear is that we head back to the first phase of the negotiation where the EU puts pressure to do the things most important to 

He added: “On timing, I think it’s unavoidable that fish would have to be done early because if we are going to come out of the transition period at the end of this year, as the Government wants, then this autumn we need to have negotiations about access to fish for 2021.


“So you’ve got to get that deal done quickly.

“The fear among the fishing industry that fishing will be traded off is a very acute one because that is what they feel happened exactly in the negotiations when we originally joined the EU.

“This is the most difficult issue because it will be very difficult for the UK to compromise on the principle.


brexit news uk fishing uk eu trade deal boris johnson

Brexit news: UK fishing industry at risk of being sold off in trade deal with EU (Image: GETTY)

brexit news boris johnson uk fishing scotland

Boris Johnson meets crew aboard the Opportunis IV fishing trawler during a visit to Peterhead in Scotland in September (Image: GETTY)

“But any deal is going to have to be ratified by all of the national parliaments almost certainly and if they lose access to waters, are they going to realistically ratify the deal?”

Brexit has long been hailed as an opportunity for British fishermen to regain full control of waters and no longer face the intense competition of vessels from other EU states.

European Union members with deep-rooted financial interests in access to British fishing waters are expected to put up a fight with  when trade talks start.

British fishermen have long complained of the limitations the contentious Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) imposes in regards to the amount of fish they and EU vessels can catch in UK waters.


But despite the Prime Minister pledging to deliver full control of British waters back to the coastal communities across the country, fishermen from EU member states have made known their intention to fight attempts to cut them off.

Last summer, French fishermen signalled they would be willing to blockade the port of Calais in an attempt to stop fishing exports from Britain reaching the continent.

And Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in December demanded her nation have access to UK fishing waters in Brexit negotiations.

Ms Fredericksen said: “When it comes to Brexit, fishing is particularly important for Denmark because it is a profession that depends on good cooperation with the countries that share the same fishing area.

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