Thursday, 11 April 2019

Brexit without agreement: half of Breton fishing threatened with bankruptcy?

Concerns among fishermen, 50% of the Breton fishery would be threatened in case of a Brexit without agreement. This represents 20% of the national fishery, or 14,000 tonnes of fish caught per year. More generally, what would be the consequences of a no-deal for French fishermen? At The Magnifier plunged into the subject.

Emmanuel Macron assured him at the European Council meeting in November 2018 to prepare the Brexit : "I want to reassure the fishermen: their daily life will not change [...] and we have obtained the support of the Twenty-Seven on this subject. " But who could have imagined that in November, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union would be as calamitous, with the prospect of a no-deal. Certainly not the French fishermen who are wondering today how they can access the territorial waters of the Channel.

France would lose access to British waters

In case of Brexit without agreement, French fishermen will no longer be able to fish in British waters. All EU member countries have a right of access to the fish stocks of every other state. This pooling of fishing areas in territorial waters is the basis of the CFP, the Common Fisheries Policy, which is part of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Initially, the exit of the EU did not mean an exit from the CFP for the British. Among the 585 pages of the Brexit agreement, Theresa May had provisions establishing a status quo for access to British waters and a continuation of the United Kingdom in the Common Fisheries Policy until December 2020. But agreement was rejected by the parliamentarians, deputies refused in particular that the national fishing still depends on Brussels after the date of Brexit.

Does French fishing depend on 50% of British waters?

In case of "no deal", the consequences for the French fishing could be disastrous. But in what proportion? A figure, largely taken up and broadcast evokes "50% of French fishing" threatened. After verification, this figure of 50% corresponds to the specific case of Breton fishing. It comes from the report 'The stakes of Brexit for Brittany' published by the Regional Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Brittany. The outlook is not good for the region: "Breton vessels carry out 50% of their activities in the exclusive economic zone of the United Kingdom.Many have no possible substitution for these areas of work so little short-term alternatives. "

To establish this rate of dependence on the waters of the Channel, the report builds the activity zones of the Breton ships and has thus been able to establish a precise map. As can be seen above, many Breton fishermen catch in British waters, visible in dark purple.

Contacted by the teams of À la Loupe, Hubert Carré, Director General of the National Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Farms, provides more details. "Breton ships make 42% of their catch in British waters, those of Hauts-de-France 31% and 20% for Norman fishermen." Brittany will therefore be the region most impacted by the lack of agreement to access the fishing zones of the United Kingdom. However, Hubert Carré draws our attention to an important point: this dependence on British waters differs according to species. For example, "92% of black spot catches take place in the UK EEZ and 74% for herring."

At the national level, this dependence of French fishermen in British waters is certainly important, but far from 50%. According to FranceAgriMer figures, 14% of French fishing is off the United Kingdom, or 14,000 tonnes of fish per year. After Ireland and its 65,000 tons, France is the second country that punctures the most fish in British waters. Then comes Denmark with 7,000 tons. The French fishing fleet is one of the largest in the EU, now second only to Spain. Fishing generates more than 13,500 seafarers jobs.

Brexit, good news for British fishermen?

On the British side, the consequences of an exit from the Common Fisheries Policy seem - a priori - more positive. In fact, according to official United Kingdom sea fishing statistics, British fishermen make 80% of their catch in their national waters, or 581,000 tonnes a year. Only 13% of their catches are made in the waters of the countries of the European Union. Thus, without the EU, the British would lose only 13% of their current fishing volume. In a country with 12,000 fishermen for 6,000 vessels, Brexit is very popular: according to a survey, reported by The Guardian, 92% of fishermen voted for the leave .

On the other hand, a very large part of the British fishery lands directly in the ports of other countries of the European Union. According to FranceAgriMer, 41% of British fisheries and aquaculture are imported to France. About the shells, more than 1,000 tons land in France each year. Leaving the EU without a specific fishing agreement, UK vessels will not be able to bring their fishery directly to a Union port because they are excluded from the common market. French fishermen will no longer be able to sell their catches on British soil.

Published 07/04/2019 by