Home U.K. Brexit fisheries row: ‘Naval battle’ warning as EU braces for life without...

Brexit fisheries row: ‘Naval battle’ warning as EU braces for life without UK waters

The UK has warned the EU that it is prepared to walk away from trade talks over Brussels’ state aid demands. The two parties have also clashed over fisheries, as the EU‘s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, insists that if the UK doesn’t open up its waters, access to European market will be denied. Last month, the UK’s negotiator David Frost expressed his concerns. He said: “The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts.

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“This makes it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.”

Mr Barnier also said he was “disappointed” with the progress made.

He added that “frankly I am disappointed and I am worried“ and “a little surprised” because Prime Minister Boris Johnson had told EU leaders earlier this summer he wanted a deal by July.

He continued: “Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards.”

As a no deal Brexit becomes an increasingly likely conclusion to talks, concern will be felt in Europe’s fishing communities.

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Brexit news: EU vessels may clash at sea (Image: getty)

Brexit news: Frost warned the UK could walk away (Image: getty)

The UK’s lucrative fishing grounds are crucial to many in the EU, and some fishermen have warned of clashes without them.

Jan Buisseret, commercial manager at Ostend auction in Belgium said: “It will mean that the whole fleet of Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Ireland will fish in the coast close to Europe.

“But there is no room for everyone. If we have rights to fish in British areas, the Brits will have the rights to sell their products here in Europe because they do not have fleets, they do not have the same consumption of fish as we have.”

Bruno Decordiar spends 60 percent of his time fishing in British waters. He’s worried that Brexit could harm his activity.

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READ MORE: Brexit fisheries: Spain’s no deal fears of ‘dramatic consequences’

Brexit news: Barnier said he was frustrated (Image: getty)

He told Euronews: “We are often at English ports and when we speak with British fishermen they tell us that we take all their fish.

“If they close the waters I’m sure we’ll lose half of our income.”

Stephane Pinto, fisherman and vice-president of the fisheries committee, said: “If tomorrow there is no deal Brexit, meaning a hard Brexit, all the flotillas of Europe, the Belgians, the Dutch, and the French will all be in the same fishing zone.

“And in terms of cohabitation that would be difficult. I think there would be a naval battle.”

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Brexit news: The Channel is a congested fishing area (Image: getty)

Brexit news: Most UK fishermen voted leave (Image: getty)

This statement made by Mr Pinto in an interview with AFP echoed warnings made in a remarkable report.

The Government’s Yellowhammer report made a surprising claim when published in September last year, warning of clashes in the Channel and illegal fishing as the open waters between the UK and the EU are shut.

It warned that 300 foreign boats would be fishing in British waters on day one of a no deal Brexit, threatening violent clashes at sea and chaos at ports.

Such scenes risked reviving hostilities of 2018 when French fishermen attacked British boats in the Channel in a scallops row.

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