Brexit: Fishing manager blames HMRC for paperwork delays
Uwe Richter, the head of the Doggerbank fishing group in the vital port city of Bremerhaven, has warned many vessels have been left vacant and fleets unable to earn money after an EU agreement collapsed. Mr Richter explained a treaty with the EU and nations, including Norway and Greenland, expired in January.
In late December, the existing deal for deep-sea fishing trawlers was not extended into 2021 due to uncertainty over post-Brexit fishing arrangements.
Mr Richter says his business is reliant on catching species of cod and haddock off the Norwegian coast and being able to fish the region has now ground to a sudden halt.
Speaking to German TV station Buten un Binnen, he said: “For us, that, of course, means that we can’t earn anything at the moment.”
He added: “We have to try to bridge the gap, but of course there are financial losses.”
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Some other firms have been forced to relocate vessels towards the Shetland Islands but this has resulted in higher operational costs – with the journey times increased by around 36 hours each way.
Talks between the EU and the Nordic nations are set to resume in the coming days and Mr Richter hopes a deal can be struck by the end of the month to avoid further economic misery.
He said: “It may happen by the end of January, then the losses will be limited.
“But if that takes any longer, it would be difficult for us.”
In the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) – worth more than £600billion to the UK economy – Britain will leave the EU Common Fisheries Policy and slash the number of EU boats in British waters by 2026.
The number of EU vessels allowed in UK waters will be reduced by 25 percent over the next five year period.
UK boats can also expect a significant increase in quota for 57 out of the 90 species of fish caught in British waters.
Kai-Arne Schmidt from the Kutterfisch-Zentrale fishing group located in the northern coastal town of Cuxhaven, explained the UK has been smart and targeted the most profitable catches.
Mr Schmidt stated the arrangements are set to result in at least one German vessel being taken out of operation.
He said: “The English are not stupid, they have chosen the expensive types of fish, such as hake, cod, haddock, monkfish and not the sprat as an example.
“For us in Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven that means taking at least one ship out of fishing.”
Earlier this week, fishmongers at the busy Boulogne-sur-Mer port in France warned post-Brexit red tape has halted the next-day delivery of salmon and lobster from the UK to Europe.
Fishing chiefs insisted delays were also being caused by paperwork issues – including names of fish being written in Latin.
Arnaud Mille, head of sourcing at Demarne Freres said: “It’s been apocalyptic.”
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The struggles faced by EU fishermen comes as Brussels outlined a fund worth £535million (€600million) for struggling fishing communities.
The financial package forms part of a so-called Brexit Adjustment Reserve agreed by EU leaders last year – worth £4.5billion (€5billion).
Elisa Ferreira, European commissioner for cohesion and reforms, said: “The €5 billion Brexit Adjustment will support countries, regions, sectors most impacted.
“We kept united during negotiations, we stay united in days after.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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