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Brexit: Anger over government's failure to get Norway fishing deal

Brexit: Anger over government's failure to get Norway fishing deal
Fishing vesselReuters

Fishing crews have been "disastrously let down" by the government's failure to reach a deal with Norway, UK Fisheries chief executive has said.

UK fleets will not have access to Norway's sub-Arctic seas, following the breakdown of UK-Norway negotiations.

One trawler, which catches 10% of fish sold in chip shops, will be tied up for a year following the collapse in talks.

The government said it had offered a "fair deal" but the two sides were "too far apart" to agree a deal this year.

The UK's departure from the EU means it is no longer part of the European Common Fisheries Policy and instead negotiates with Norway directly over fishing catches.

'Absolutely devastating'

Under an agreement reached last year, the UK and Norway hold annual negotiations on access to water and quotas.

Speaking to 365Nainanews Radio 4, Jane Sandell chief executive of UK Fisheries, said the failure to reach an agreement would mean her firm having only 40% of the fishing opportunities of previous years.

Her Hull-based company employs approximately 100 crew and Ms Sandell said the news would be "absolutely devastating" for those workers and their families.

"It means so much in this area to our history and our culture... we are in total shock, we never believed this would actually happen."

She said the lack of a deal would mean their Kirkella trawler - which catches around 10% of all the fish sold in the UK chip shops - would be "tied up" for a year.

Hull-based super-trawler Kirkella has an on-board fish factory and gym for the crew.

She also criticised the government for failing "to deliver on all of the deals we previously had through the EU with third countries".

"So with the Faroes and Norway, the deals have failed and Greenland they didn't even bother starting," she told Today.

The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations said the failure to reach agreement with Norway "will mean a significant and absolute reduction in fishing opportunities for our fleets".

The organisation also said it would lead to more vessels trying "to make a living in the constrained waters of the North Sea and West of Scotland".

'Fair offer'

A spokesman for the environment department said: "We have always been clear that we will only strike agreements if they are balanced and in the interests of the UK fishing industry.

Cod and chipsPA Media
UK Fisheries says the lack of a deal will have implications for UK chippies

"We put forward a fair offer on access to UK waters and the exchange of fishing quotas, but we have concluded that our positions remain too far apart to reach an agreement this year.

"Norway is a key partner and we will continue to work with them over the course of the year."

Labour's shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said the failure to reach a deal was "an utter betrayal of the distant water fleet by a Conservative government that promised fishers nothing less than 'a sea of opportunity' - that was a lie".

He added: "Fishing communities are paying the price for government incompetence and broken promises."

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