You got played, Boris! Devon fishing chief lashes out at EU’s quota victory

Boris Johnson ‘sacrificed fishing industry’ says June Mummery

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Chloe North, manager of Western Fish Producers’ Organisation in Exeter, said the Prime Minister signed up to a raw deal which allows Brussels to keep most of what they want while appearing to compromise. Under the UK and the EU’s trade agreement, the bloc has agreed to hand back a quarter of the value of its overall catch in British waters over a period of five years.

Ms North told “They’ve said that we’ve got 25 per cent of the value of the fish the EU caught in our waters back but actually what specific fish have they given back and what quotas have they given back? Are they useful to us?

“They are not the quotas that we needed.

“They gave us the quotas that they wanted to give up.”

The free trade agreement stipulates that British fishermen can expect quota increases for 57 out of the 90 species of fish caught in UK waters every year.

But for some species, including Channel cod, there will be no new slice of quota coming their way.

Ninety per cent of Channel cod is caught by European boats, mainly French, each year.

During the post-Brexit trade negotiations last year, leading industry figures called for a new fairer system to be rolled out to give UK trawlers more access to the coveted species.

The failure of Mr Johnson to secure more quota for Channel cod in the deal he trumpeted as a success has been widely criticised by fishing bosses.

Ms North said: “Channel cod was widely held up in the run up to Brexit as one of the big disparities and unfairness that we only have a very small percentage of.

“We haven’t gotten much of those quotas back.

“We’ve only gotten back quotas for things that we didn’t necessarily fish the full quota for anyway.

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“We’ve got back a large amount from North Sea Dover sole, but traditionally only about 50 per cent of this quota was fished anyway.

“What we’ve got back, they’re putting it into the figures for value but if it’s not going to be fished, it’s not a value that’s going to be seen.

“So, this is termed ‘paper fish’ because it’s not fish that will actually be caught.”

Throughout the long months of trade talks and extended deadline, Mr Johnson and his chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost appeared to be standing firm on their pledges to the fishing sector.

Fishermen were encouraged by the strong front they displayed and were hopeful and optimistic that a good deal would be secured.

But when the Prime Minister announced the agreement on Christmas Eve, fishing chiefs were quick to slap down the package.

Some accused him of “selling out” fishermen to salvage crumbling talks at the 11th hour.

Ms North added: “The deal is definitely worse that what we were hoping for.

“It’s worse than the situation we had before, worse than what we were promised by the Government.”

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