Denmark accuses Britain of violating brexit fisheries agreement due to trawling ban | Brexit

Denmark has accused Britain of violating the post-Brexit fisheries agreement by planning to ban destructive bottom trawling in the North Sea protection zone.

The UK announced in February that it wanted to ban bottom trawling in Dogger Bank’s protection zone in the North Sea. Environmentalists praised the measure, hoping to see the recovery of Pallas, sharks and skates from the sea to the rich sandbar in its time.

Danish Fisheries Minister Rasmus Prehn said in an interview with the Guardian that such plans were not in line with the post-Brexit agreement.

“The Brexit agreement guarantees full access [for EU vessels] to fish in UK waters until 2026. And that is why, of course, we have a very big problem if the British Government is going to change that. We can’t accept it, and it breaks our contract, ”he said.

The accusation opens a new front for the British government, which is already embroiled in a heated dispute with France over fishing rights, given the wider background of post-Brexit tensions with the EU.

Dogger Bank, a large shallow sandy beach about 90 miles northeast of the Humber estuary, has been fishing by Danish boats for centuries and is one of the most important fishing grounds in the country, according to the Danish government.

Under the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK last Christmas Eve, EU fishermen will be able to continue to access UK waters until 30 June 2026, a transitional period that will delay the reduction of fishing opportunities in the future.

The agreement also commits both parties to “promote long-term sustainability” for 70 common fish in common waters.

Prehn said Danish fishermen “are already in a very difficult situation because of Brexit, so this would be even harder for them, and we can’t accept that.”

Although he said it was premature to discuss possible retaliation, he revealed his disappointment at how relations between Britain and Denmark had deteriorated since Brexit.

“It’s really hard to make a deal and only after a year do we have these problems with one part; It’s not really acceptable, we don’t usually make contracts. We used to have a very good relationship with the UK, Prehn said.

He spoke about Brussels as the UK and EU start a final sprint in talks to set catch limits in 2022 before the 10 December deadline.

Denmark and the United Kingdom joined the then European Economic Community in 1973, but arrived too late to influence the first version of the Common Fisheries Policy, leaving British officials with constant bitterness.

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Between 2013 and 2020, Danish fishermen landed DKK 27 million (EUR 3.6 million, GBP 3.05 million) a year in bottom trawling at Dogger Bank, mainly sandeel, which is used on fish farms but is also an important source of food for puffins. , kittiwakes and seals.

Germany and the Netherlands also have fishing interests in Dogger Bank, whose environmentalists say it is overloaded by trawls and dredges, which has caused a sharp decline in fish.

Bottom trawling means pulling weight nets across the seabed.

Environmentalists have welcomed the government’s decision to protect Dogger Bank, but said the UK must make the same effort to protect the fish targeted by British fishermen.

“The UK is proposing a bold and good deal for Dogger Bank,” said Dutch marine biologist Irene Kingma. “It’s also very easy – when you don’t affect your fishing.”

“The UK is very progressive on all environmental issues as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own fishing interests,” he added. “They are good [protecting] Dogger Bank because its flatfish are caught by the Dutch and they are good at industrial fishing [sandeel] because it is fished by the Danes. But they are not very willing to move on cod when it comes to Scottish fishing vessels.

The UK Government has been contacted for comments.

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