Spanish fishermen have shredded the “small print” of the fishing chapter in the post-Brexit deal, the biggest obstacle in the last hours of the negotiation. Despite the fact that what prevails among the Spanish fleet is a sensation of “relief” in the short term, there are numerous dark clouds on the horizon, especially when the transition period agreed with London expires in mid-2026. A time in which the 3,000 European vessels that fish in English waters will have to cope with a 25% ‘cut’ in fishing quotas. In the sector they recognize concern about the annual negotiation that will be opened after this period with the United Kingdom (fishing quotas, landings, environmental requirements, etc …) and Norway; as well as the consequences on the distribution of the rest of the fishing quotas in the future, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the exchanges of quotas between countries and the sustainable management of stocks. Some concerns that have been put on the table during the meeting held this Monday with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Luis Planas.
In the short term, the Spanish fleet does not seem to be one of the most affected by the agreement, compared to its counterparts in Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands or France who could see their quotas cut between 25% and 17%, estimate from Cepesca. Specifically, its secretary general and president of the European employers’ association Europèche Javier Garat, points out in statements to ABC that “the Dutch or French at the EUFA (Euopean Fisheries Alliance) meeting were saying that they should somehow be compensated because otherwise they they will go to ruin ». In his opinion, this may have implications for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
At the moment, in the period that will last until June 30, 2026, the Spanish fleet as they have been insisting from the Ministry led by Luis Planas, you will have to deal with limited cuts as in the case of the northern hake up to 1% progressive over the next five and a half years. In this sense, the minister pointed out, species of special interest to Spanish fishermen remain outside the agreement from Gran Sol such as mackerel, horse mackerel or blue whiting. Neither are other deep-sea species such as sea bream, alfonsinos, black sable and grenadiers.
However, now Brussels will have to enter into the detail of the fishing quotas during the transition time which opens on January 1 in which the eight countries that fish in British waters (Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Ireland and Sweden) will have lower quotas. At stake, the management of the 119 stocks – including the environmental aspect – shared with the United Kingdom that were left out of the negotiation at the last Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries held on 15 and 16 December.
Multilateral negotiation with Norway
In parallel, it is also up to the European Commission to sit at the table with Norway with the British as the third in contention and to negotiate access to the waters under the sovereignty of this Nordic country that breathes relief from the pact reached on Christmas Eve. And here comes the problem: the sector does not fully trust Brussels and is concerned that this is aired in multilateral negotiations outside the community microcosm.