UK fishing industry disappointed by Brexit deal "fudge"

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a fishing boat on the beach in Hastings, Britain, December 20, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s fishing industry is disappointed that a Brexit trade deal struck with the European Union does not represent more of a reduction in the access that the bloc currently has to British waters, an industry representative said.

“The industry will be bitterly disappointed that there is not more of definitive break,” Barrie Deas, chief executive of The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, told Reuters. “It’s a bit of a fudge.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Thursday that Britain had agreed a “reasonable” five-and-half-year transition period with the EU over fisheries, longer than the three years it wanted but shorter than the 14 years the EU had originally asked for.

Deas said the biggest concern for the industry was likely to be a decision to allow EU fishing boats to continue to operate up to six miles from the coasts of the United Kingdom, half the 12-mile limit sought by the industry.

“I think there will be a lot of frustration,” he said.

Brexit supporters say fisheries are a symbol of sovereignty and fishing grounds in British waters should be primarily for British fishing crews. The EU has sought to ensure access for boats from member states such as France and the Netherlands.

Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Nick Macfie