Germany fishing crisis: Industry on the brink before Brexit makes matters EVEN worse

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Between January and May, the amount of Baltic herring caught by German fisherman declined by almost 83 percent compared to the year before. The situation worsened as restaurants closed due to the pandemic.

Pike was also down by 71 percent as well as Baltic cod (69 percent) and North Sea plaice (61 percent) according to figures from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

Peter Breckling, Secretary General of the German Fisheries Association, told Focus: “As a result of the lockdown, there were disruptions in trade routes to the consumer, which meant that fisheries had to stop fishing.”

Although the situation is already in a terrible state, fears have been raised that it could get worse due to Brexit.

Alois Gerig, chairman of the Committee on Food and Agriculture in the Bundestag, said due to a large part of the fishing grounds in the North Sea are in British waters, the situation will only get worse.

The UK officially left the EU back in January and negotiations are currently ongoing with a deadline thought to be set for October, two months before the transition period ends on December 31.

One of the main disputes in the negotiations is fishing as the EU wants to maintain its rights to Britain’s fishing waters.

Under the controversial Commons Fisheries Policy (CFP), all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.

As the UK has a large coastal area, critics have often argued the system is unfair.

There was a breakthrough in discussions over fishing rights back in June after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, suggested the UK would be treated as an independent coastal state.

According to reports, he told other diplomats a compromise would have to wait until other parts of the trade deal were being finalised.

The Times reported EU sources said the Frenchman is looking for a “whole trade deal” which relies heavily on fishing rights.

A senior EU diplomatic source said: “To dilute the influence of France and the other coastal states, Barnier needs to have the whole trade deal, which stands of falls on fishing.”

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A UK government source added: “There have been signals that this is an area where Mr Barnier wants to move, but as yet there are no firm proposals on the table.”

Former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has claimed the EU has not given enough ground in Brexit trade talks, especially on the topic of fishing.

Speaking to the, Mr Habib said he was cautious of the Brexit deadline at the end of the year due to the current attitude from the EU.

He argued Brussels was willing to make some concessions on fishing but not enough to secure a deal.

Mr Habib said: “On fishing, the EU seems prepared to give up some ground but not the amount the Prime Minister said would be a prerequisite for a deal with them on fishing.

“I think they are prepared to give British fishermen greater rights into our own waters.

“But the Prime Minister had said that the quotas should be established on an annual basis.

“This would then allow the UK to be capable of altering them unilaterally at the beginning of each year.

“The EU is resisting that and there is still quite a lot of ground to cover.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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