Britain Prepares for Brexit Fishing Rights Tussle

  • Legislators on both sides of the divide are seeking to avert a second "Cod War."
  • The Royal Navy is already bringing in two inspection ships to protect its waters post-Brexit.
  • The U.K.’s hardline stance is likely to cause a few clashes with the E.U.

The United Kingdom and the European Union negotiators will be locked in dialogue until the end of the year to iron out delicate Brexit divorce nuances. Britain is already drawing up plans to reinforce its coastal defenses. This is in line with anticipated changes to the existing fishing rights accord. The United Kingdom is looking to take back control of its waters and restrict E.U. members’ access.

The Cod Wars were a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland on fishing rights in the North Atlantic. The first lasted from 1958-61, the second from 1972-73, and the third from 1975-76. Each of the disputes ended with an Icelandic victory.

Consequently, legislators on both sides of the divide are seeking to avert a situation that is reminiscent of the 1970s infamous Cod Wars. It led to confrontations between British fishermen and trawlers and their Icelandic counterparts. They cut each other’s nets and trawlers, and rammed each other. Gunfights would, at times, also erupt. This state of affairs forced the Royal Navy to deploy frigates in order to protect the interests of British fishers.

In 2018, British and French fishing crews got embroiled in a tussle over scallops off the coast of Normandy. It was only after several days that tensions were mollified, and an arduous compromise was reached. At the time, Great Britain was still an E.U. member. Now that the British have left the European Union, the clashes at sea are likely to worsen.

Royal Navy Set to Intensify Fishing Zone Operations

The Royal Navy is already bringing in two inspection ships to protect its waters post-Brexit. Another 22 ships will be made available for emergency purposes. The Marine Management Organization, whose mandate is to secure British waters, is also planning to deploy two new surveillance aircraft to reinforce maritime protection. In case of a no-deal Brexit, the United Kingdom is likely to prohibit E.U. nations from fishing in its waters.

Brexit (a portmanteau of “British” and “exit”) was the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). Following a June 2016 referendum, in which 52% voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, beginning the Brexit process.

Britain has already contracted Babcock, a U.K. defense shipbuilding company to build five new-generation frigates in anticipation of the task ahead. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set the course for fishing rights negotiations with the E.U. and highlighted that it is in Britain’s best interests to become an independent seafaring nation by the end of the year.

“To recapture the spirit of those seafaring ancestors immortalized above us whose exploits brought not just riches but something even more important than that – and that was a global perspective.”

Tough Negotiations with the European Union

The U.K.’s hardline stance is likely to cause a few clashes with the E.U. The union has already signaled that it will limit access to its market if London decides to adopt such protectionist policies. While this argument remains in draft form, the United Kingdom is expected to be unyielding to countermeasures.

The two sides are expected to reach an agreement by July 1. The fishing sector currently contributes about £784 million to the U.K.’s overall GDP.

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Samuel Gush. W

Samuel Waweru is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.


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