Speaking to Express.co.uk, Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, claimed the UK and EU have not settled the issue of fisheries despite the fisheries section of the TAC. With fishermen left disappointed by the quota share agreed with the EU, Mr Deas claimed Brussels had not given the UK a fair adjustment in terms of catch levels. Without a fair outcome between the two, Mr Deas claimed relations will not reach equilibrium, meaning the agreement may be up for grabs in five and a half years.
Although he acknowledged some issues for exporters had now settled down since January, Mr Deas insisted the UK may well be ready to take tariffs on goods in order to secure changes to access to Britain’s waters.
With the UK willing to take on Brussels over fisheries, Mr Deas claimed relations will remain tense for the next decades.
Mr Deas said: “What I do think is that, because of the terms of the agreement, that it can only be a toxic relationship between the UK and the EU on fisheries for decades to come.
“I think what would have happened if there had been a fairer outcome, from our point of view, I suppose, is that there would be an adjustment on the EU side, and that would settle down to a new equilibrium.
“And if the balance would shift in the UK’s favour it would settle down to an equilibrium, whereas I think now it’s left open.”
If the UK were to take action over access, the EU has the power within the agreement to take punitive action within the deal against Britain.
Indeed, within the deal, if one side reduces or does not grant access to waters, tariffs can be placed on other goods covered within the TAC or suspend other areas of the agreement.
Mr Deas said: “Some days I’m an optimist, some days I’m not.
“I don’t really know what the answer is to the fisheries question.
“I think that on the face of it, the UK could accept a certain level of tariffs as penalties for changing the access arrangements, and that would probably be a price worth paying.
“On the other hand, the EU seems pretty confident that it has punitive measures to take against the UK.”
Despite championing fisheries throughout Brexit, the UK only agreed to a quota return of 25 percent.
This will be phased in over five and a half years before the agreement is up for renegotiation.
After 2026, the UK and EU will conduct annual fisheries negotiations regarding the total allowable catch for shared stocks.
The EU will also be allowed continued access to the UK’s waters despite Britain now being an independent coastal nation.
Many officials claimed the EU had been given preferential terms within the deal which will cause “turbulent” relations for decades.
Mr Deas concluded: “I think the industry is still pretty shaken by the agreement that was reached.
“We think there’s still a deep sense of frustration and disappointment.