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Simon Coveney warned Britain’s stance over what remains one of the most contentious topics in talks between Michel Barnier and David Frost risked sinking any trade pact. His scathing review of the UK’s position on fishing comes after the Government assured fishermen they would be able to increase their catch after the expiration of the Brexit transition period on December 31.
Mr Coveney ripped apart the pledge, saying European member states felt very strongly about shared access to migratory stocks in British seas.
He offered an insight into Ireland’s stance during a meeting of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) joint committee on European Union affairs.
Referring to migratory species, Mr Coveney said: “These are shared stocks.
“They are not British fish or EU fish.
“They are fish that swim between the two jurisdictions.
“To draw a line down the sea and say the fish on our side are our fish and on your side are yours is a ridiculously simplistic way to look at this.”
He used mackerel as an example to stress his point.
Mr Coveney said most of the mackerel caught in Scottish territorial waters are spawned and grow off the west coast of Ireland.
He warned: “Nobody owns this stock.
“This is a transitory species of fish that lives between our territories.”
His assessment of the UK’s hardline stance on fishing rights is unlikely to go down well with industry chiefs across Britain.
EU to cave on fishing demands! Barnier warns France must compromise [ANALYSIS]
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They still don’t get it! France rejects Frost’s fishing plan [REACTION]
Many leading figures have long called for foreign boats to be stripped of their free access to the country’s rich fishing grounds.
This week the fishing deal between the UK and Norway was leaked online, offering an insight into a possible post-Brexit management system of British waters.
While the document does not contain specific detail on potential fishing opportunities it does mention “zonal attachment”.
This refers to a scientific method used to calculate quotas based on where fish live.
The ins and outs of exactly what opportunities fishermen will have under the deal are set to be decided during annual negotiations.
The five-page pact reads: “We commit to recognising the importance of zonal attachment as a principle of international fisheries management applied by coastal states when discharging their obligations under UNCLOS and related instruments in relation to join management of shared stocks.”
On Wednesday it emerged that the UK sees a 66 percent chance of a Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost told Parliament: “The landing zone and the nature of the agreement is pretty clear if not exactly pinned down yet.
“A deal is eminently achievable and could be achieved but equally it is possible that we won’t get there.”
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