Belgian fishermen terrified of No Deal Brexit impact

The Belgian fishing industry would face devastation if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, another stark reminder that Britain still has considerable leverage in these negotiations.

A BBC report today showed a Belgian fishing boat, with journalist Adam Fleming on board and pointing out that “every single fish being unloaded now has been caught in British waters”.

In the event of No Deal, the UK could take full control of a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. It is this zone that has been opened up to the entire European Union and all but destroyed the British fishing industry and coastal communities. Brexit is a huge opportunity to take back control and help revive these communities.

The UK taking back full control of its waters would be horrendous for the Belgian fishing industry given around 50% of the fish they catch are from UK waters.

EU fleets land eight times as many fish from UK waters as the other way round meaning that French fishermen (and the government) are also disturbed at the prospect of the UK stopping access post-Brexit which it could do immediately in the event of No Deal. There have been French warnings that it could hurt 70% of workers in some areas. It would be a national scandal in a country that already seen nationwide protests against unpopular President Emmanuel Macron.

As Daniel Fasquelle, a Member of the National Assembly of France, has said: “A hard Brexit would be a catastrophe for French fishing. For my fishermen, between 50% and 70% of their fishing zone is in British waters. They leave port and within a few miles are in British waters.

“In the case of a hard Brexit, they get back full sovereignty of their waters and block our boats.”

The hardline EU Commission have gone for their own ‘cherry picking’ if there’s No Deal, proposing ‘reciprocal access’ of fishing waters i.e. continuing with the same arrangements that have smashed the prospects of British fishermen. No thanks.

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If Brussels want a deal, they’re going to need to shift significantly. If not, they’re going to have a lot of furious French and Belgian fishermen demanding answers.