Our government claimed that the Christmas Eve deal on fisheries ‘puts us back in control of our waters’. Fishery leaders themselves were not so impressed.
But there was one area where we seemed to have got back control: fishing in Norwegian waters. Post-Brexit Britain would be able to negotiate as a sovereign nation with Norway.
Quite a surprise then to learn that our negotiators have broken off talks having failed to reach any agreement.
As a result, Norwegian waters will be completely closed to British fishers for the whole of this year – while EU27 boats will have their rights there as before.
It seems rather likely that the UK side was bidding for an improvement on the terms we enjoyed as an EU member state; that we were trying perhaps not to enlarge our take from Norwegian waters but to reduce Norwegian access to our waters.
It looks as though we have overplayed our hand, putting up a black mark in a sector where Brexit was vaunted to be the answer to our dreams.
Richard Carden Hilborough, Norfolk
Head of MAFF’s fisheries department from 1991-93, retired from EC Directorate General for Trade in 2005
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