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Transition deal a ‘catastrophic’ blow to fisheries industry

PUBLISHED: 17:28 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:28 19 March 2018

Fisherman Paul Lines, chairman of the Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance. Picture: Nick Butcher

Fisherman Paul Lines, chairman of the Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance. Picture: Nick Butcher

East Anglia’s fishing industry has reacted with disappointment to the “catastrophic” news that the UK will continue to be affected by European Union fishing quotas until 2021.

As details emerged of the UK’s transitional arrangement with the EU, which will last until December 2020, it was revealed that the bloc will continue to dictate the share of fish given to British fishermen.

The industry had been lobbying for a withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which it felt favoured European fishermen.

Fisherman Paul Lines, chairman of the Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance, said the news would devastate the industry in East Anglia and may be the final straw for many.

He said: “It will be catastrophic for the British fishing industry.

“It will mean that when it comes to renegotiate the quotas the UK won’t have a seat at the table and we won’t have a say in what happens.”

Fishing quotas are set in annual negotiations in December which means once the UK has left the EU on March 29 2019 it will need to negotiate as an independent state.

However, Mr Lines said he feared maintaining the status quo in a transitional period would mean no-one would be representing the UK’s interests.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said while it was positive that it seemed clear the UK would leave the CFP after 2020, it was disappointing that the current system would remain in place in the interim.

He said: “There is a tremendous desire and determination to get on with setting out a framework for the UK fisheries and shaping how the East Anglian fishing industry fits within that framework. People are keen to get on with reinvigorating the industry and it is disappointing that the starting gun has not been fired on that. It is frustrating.”

He added: “There is some concern that the precedent is being set for how we negotiate our fisheries after the transition period and whether that gives us the opportunity to improve the situation in East Anglia.”

The blow comes after fisheries minister George Eustice spoke at a conference focusing on the Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries in Lowestoft last week.

It is estimated the industry could be worth as much as £20m a year to the local economy if quotas were raised.

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