EU fishing crisis: New Brexit rules create problems for Brussels – states demand UK talks

Fishing chief discusses ‘unworkable’ EU legislation

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Dutch boats have warned that new technicalities introduced at the start of the year are hindering their access to UK fishing grounds. They have successfully applied for special access permits but have been hit by “new technical regulations”, foreign minister Stef Blok warned in a letter to parliamentarians. EU coastal nations have called on the European Commission to open urgent talks with the UK to address the issue, he added.

Mr Blok told Dutch MPs that their nation’s fishermen had complained about a number of British regulations that “deviate” from the bloc’s rulebook.

He wrote: “On January 1, the UK issued temporary fishing authorisations, and since January 22, fishermen have received final fishing authorisations from the UK, allowing them access to UK waters.

“Although the UK has largely adopted the existing European legislation and regulations for fishing, there are also points where the UK deviates.”

Mr Blok explained that new “conditions” insisted by the British, such as “which panels are required in nets”, have been difficult to understand.

He added: “They are sometimes unclear about the interpretation.

“That is why there is intensive contact between the fishing industry, NVWA, RVO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality on all subjects that affect fisheries.

“In order to speed up the removal of ambiguities, the Netherlands, like several other member states, has requested the European Commission to discuss the outstanding technical questions with the UK in the short term, so that there is clarity about the interpretation of the British regulations and this communicated with the fishermen.”

Under the terms of the Brexit trade agreement, Brussels handed back 25 percent of the value of fish its boats catch in UK waters.

The generous catch quotas enjoyed by European fishermen will be phased down over a five-and-a-half year transition period.

After June 2026, No10 will have complete powers over granting access to Britain’s coastal waters.

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But Brussels boss Ursula von der Leyen has reassured member states that she believes their fishing rights will be maintained after the adjustment period.

Mr Blok also told MPs that the post-Brexit fisheries relationship had thrown up a number of other issues that need to be addressed by the EU.

He said the Netherlands would demand “a quick and simple solution” to ensure future swaps of fishing quotas between member states.

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The foreign minister stressed this would be vital for protecting species caught in the Irish and Celtic Sea and in helping EU coastal states adapt to their new catch allowances.

“The Netherlands occasionally insists on a quick and simple solution, as the lack of this option hampers optimal and sustainable fishing,” he wrote.

“You will be informed about this separately via the Annotated Agenda for the Virtual Fisheries Council of February 22.”

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