Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Monday, 28 December 2020

"Post-Brexit deal: British fishermen slaughtered, French people satisfied"

An early response to the Brexit deal with regard to fishing from across the Channel:

After long months of negotiations, a Brexit agreement was finally signed Thursday between the European Union and the United Kingdom. In particular, it includes a diversely welcomed fishing section. For the French, it is a feeling of victory. For the British, it was catastrophic, as evidenced by fishermen from the small port of Hastings.

After Thursday's Brexit deal , the mood is not the same in Channel ports. On the British side, the pill is difficult to swallow. On the French side, however, we rub our hands. Because this trade agreement - which includes around forty very technical pages on fishing - clearly benefits the French sailors. If they will have to gradually return 25% of their catch to the British within five years, they will be able at the same time to continue to ply the waters of the United Kingdom, not far from the coast. In Hastings, in the south-east of England, Europe 1 met fishermen completely dejected by the text and its consequences.

REPORTAGE - "Feast" or "sacrifice": what do the British think of the post-Brexit agreement? - SEE BELOW:

"The government sold the fishermen to get a deal"

It must be said that this little brick town is entirely turned towards its port, which is also small, since it is only a street. Behind is the beach. No quays, huts on the sand in the middle of empty nets and no trawlers either, but about twenty fishing boats a few meters long. On board, sailors in yellow vests, who are as if stunned.

They tell of the impression of having been sacrificed, given as a bargaining chip so that the United Kingdom retains access to the European market. "The government sold the fishermen to get an agreement, so that the other countries are satisfied," said one of them, upset like the others. "Brexit is not going to change anything for us. We thought it would be better, but no."

"We get 25% of what? From our own fish?" And the famous 25% do not change the ambient gloom. Because that is not what the fishermen expected. Today it is possible for all vessels flying the European flag to fish 6 miles - approximately 10 km - from the UK coast. But in Hastings, we want foreign ships to be at least 20 kilometers away. For reasons of sovereignty, but also and above all because it is in this gap, between 10 and 20 kilometers beyond the shore, that the catches are the best.

The owner of the port of Hastings estimates that 70% of French fish come from this area. "Looks like they won. Our government gave in," sighs Paul Joy. "The French can come and fish 6 miles from the British shores, but we can't go fishing 12 miles from theirs. So we get 25% of what? From our own fish? I'm worried, we can't make a living . Not because of the quotas, but mainly because the fish are caught before they reach shore. They are caught by foreign vessels, in British waters. And it will continue for another five years. "

A "pressure tactic" on London On the other side of the Channel, the feeling is diametrically opposed. First of all, the 25% retrocession sounded like a victory, because British fishermen were claiming 60%, or even 80%. Then because it is not an annual but a progressive quota, to be reached by 2026, and it is distributed by country of the Union. Suddenly in France, the impact should be limited. "At the first calculation, we would be on -8% in total over six years at the national level", measures Olivier Le Nézet, president of the Brittany fisheries committee. "Afterwards, the regional variation remains to be calculated precisely according to the species, zones and armaments concerned."

And the five-year deadline does not scare the French fishermen, in a strong position vis-à-vis London, which cannot afford the luxury of getting angry with Europe and its powerful market, in which are in particular sold each year not less than 100,000 tons of fish caught by the British. "For them, it is essential to be able to continue to have access to the market", confirms Olivier Le Nézet. "The pressure tactic on the UK is obviously retaliatory measures on access to the common market in Europe." An essential safeguard to protect a strong sector in Brittany of 5.1500 sailors spread over 1.300 boats.

And in Hastings, fatalism echoes this French optimism. The general feeling is that in five years it will be too late to save the fishermen anyway. And that Thursday's agreement really signed the death warrant for English artisanal fishing.

"The Brexiters have had their Brexit", sweeps journalist Alex Taylor, a staunch supporter of attachment to the EU. © JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP Share on:

After ten months of negotiations, a post-Brexit trade deal was barely found. On the British side, opinions are divided on this agreement, between the relief of ending a political mess and the fear of having concluded a bad "deal" in future relations with the European Union.


REPORTAGE

It had been expected for four and a half years: the agreement for the UK's exit from the European Union was approved by both parties on Thursday afternoon . If Boris Johnson openly admits having dropped ballast on the sharing of fishing waters, his country will however have free access to the single European market, which rejoices the British Prime Minister. For many Britons, the deal is a relief, even in London, which voted largely against Brexit in June 2016.

"If I were European I would probably be fed up with us, to be honest." Smirking, Harry is a tall, red-haired perch, opposed to Brexit but resigned: anything is better than the political mess of the past four years. "I'm less afraid now that we have this deal. But it's still a very uncertain time. With the coronavirus, it's the worst time to have some kind of economic crash like Brexit, so it's not not very good. I will not forget this Christmas! "

"Brexit, always a bad thing"

This agreement therefore represents a last-minute gift for confined parties. "The Brexiters are happy, they had their Brexit", regrets the Franco-British journalist Alex Taylor, fierce opponent of Brexit and guest of Culture Media , Friday morning. For him, the British press is in any event "not objective" on Brexit, because "80%" supported the "leave" camp for the referendum of June 2016.

"We have regained control," headlines The Telegraph , quoting the Prime Minister. In a video taken over by British television, he wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. "The post-Brexit trade deal is the feast promised to the British," argues Boris Johnson. Already, "BoJo" is committed to pitting the UK against the European Union in the race for economic success, reports The Guardian .

"In January, it will be terrible "

For Phil and Taron, convinced that the consequences of the UK's exit from the European Union have not been measured, this Christmas will have a bitter flavor. "I'm not sure this is the best deal for Europe or for us. In January, it's going to be terrible," says Phil, who doesn't plan to launch this topic at lunch: "Brexit is always a bad thing. "

"Johnson gave in on the fish"

If the subject will indeed be absent from many feasts, the media are still wondering about the content of this agreement: "Did Boris Johnson sell us to the European Union or did he brought home an excellent Brexit deal? "asks The Sun , a pro-Brexit tabloid.

Behind the smiles and the messages of victory, some indeed cringe. “Boris Johnson gave in to the fish to avoid a no-deal Brexit,” writes The Independent . For the leaders of the fishing industry, the verdict is final: "The Prime Minister sacrificed the fishermen to conclude this agreement", they affirm in this daily.