Friday, 3 March 2017

Brexit: French fisheries mobilise.

This is the title of a special dossier published this week by our colleague Le Marin, title of the Ouest-France group specialized in maritime news. Our reporter, Solène Le Roux, poses the challenges of negotiating the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and its possible impacts on the fishing sector in France.

The Brexit gives cold angers to the French fishermen, writes Solène Le Roux. Approximately 30% of their catch depends on British waters and 50% between Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Brittany. With virtually no possibility of redeployment. The conditions for leaving the United Kingdom of the European Union (EU) will be crucial for the French fishery .

His hopes are based on former EU Minister and Commissioner Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, and his team, who have gone on for 18 months of negotiations. British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to launch Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon in March, demanding the withdrawal of the EU. Objective: to conclude an agreement by October 2018, for ratification by the Parliament and the Council, the effective release in March 2019.

The British have strong claims on the fishery side. Their White Paper, produced in February, denounces an imbalance: in 2015, European vessels caught 683 000 tonnes in British waters (484 million pounds) and the British only 110 000 tonnes (114 million pounds) Of the EU. They intend to correct this historic imbalance. This is the mandate given by some 12,000 British fishermen, for more than 6,000 vessels, who voted over 90% in favor of Brexit.

"The basic proposal of the British could be a drop of 75% of our fishing at home, underlines an analysis of the regional council of Brittany, a reduction of 60% of the turnover for the most affected armaments. "

The challenge is to maintain maximum access to British waters and associated quotas. Either the United Kingdom agrees to maintain a principle of equal reciprocal access, within the framework of agreements with the EU, by obtaining upward fishing opportunities, in particular on cod or haddock. Either it refuses access to its EEZ to foreign vessels and uses its fishing opportunities alone, or by granting the remainder to other States through fishing agreements. Member States will in any case try to defend their historic rights.

France absorbs 41% of British seafood exports to the EU. Scottish salmon is at the top of French purchases with 35,000 tonnes.