The Danish Fishers PO: UK Reneges on Brexit Deal and Bans Sandeel Fishing in UK Waters

COPENHAGEN, Denmark–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The following is a joint announcement from The Danish Fishers PO, Danish Pelagic Producer Organization, and Marine Ingredients Denmark.

Contrary to the Brexit agreement that allowed EU fishers to fish in British waters, the UK has decided to ban sandeel fishing on the British part of the Dogger Bank. The UK’s reversal of the Brexit agreement is a major issue of principle and a huge blow to the fishing and fishmeal industry in Denmark, where sandeel has historically been the primary source of raw materials for factories.

When the EU and the UK agreed on the terms of Brexit, a crucial element was that EU fishers could continue to fish in UK waters. An element that EU fishers paid dearly to get the UK to agree to.

The UK is now reneging on that agreement and will ban sandeel fishing on the UK part of the Dogger Bank from March 26 this year. The UK is implementing the closure arguing this to protect birdlife. However, there is no scientific evidence that the closure will have the desired effect.

The decision is causing outrage in the EU fishing industry, which points out that it is a major problem of principle if the UK can walk away from the Brexit agreement without consequences.

– “This is a humiliation of the EU. With the Brexit agreement, Danish fishers paid dearly for access to British waters. Now the UK is reneging on the agreement. This is beneath criticism. Therefore, this case must be raised at the highest level. Because it cannot be right that the UK is simply allowed to run away from the agreements they make with the EU. Especially not when there is no professional evidence,” says Svend-Erik Andersen, chairman of the Danish Fishers PO.

The Danish government must fight

Approximately 100,000 tons of sandeel are landed annually in Denmark, worth more than DKK 300 million from the area in question. This will be felt in the fishing industry. Therefore, the government must fight, according to Danish Pelagic PO.

– “The closure will have major negative economic consequences for Danish fisheries. And Brexit has already hit us hard. We simply cannot accept this. Therefore, we urge the government’s top ministers to contact the UK and the EU. No stone must be left unturned, and we must fight to the end,” says Jens Schneider Rasmussen, Chairman of the Danish Pelagic Producers’ Organization.

The Brexit agreement must be respected

It is not only the fishing industry that is affected by the closure. It will also have consequences for the fish oil and fishmeal industry. The landings of sandeel from the UK in particular have formed the basis for Danish exports of fish oil and fishmeal totaling DKK 2.7 billion since 2015.

– “It is serious if the EU, and the EU heads of state, allow the UK to renege on their agreement. It is a very critical situation. We are talking about significant values for Denmark and it is our clear conviction that this is a breach of the agreement’s wording that reciprocal access to fishing in the waters of the parties must be granted. The legal implications of the British decision should be fully investigated and the possibilities for legal action clarified,” says Anne Mette Bæk, Director of Marine Ingredients Denmark.

No scientific evidence

The Danish Technical Institute (DTU Aqua) has conducted an evaluation of the sandeel fishery and concluded that there are no lasting negative effects of sandeel fishing in the marine environment, and DTU Aqua concludes that the size of the sandeel stock does not affect other fish stocks, marine mammals, and seabirds.

The UK and the EU recently jointly asked the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to assess the importance of the sandeel stock as a food source for seabirds, among other things. ICES responded to this request in November 2023 by stating that the biological advice for sandeel is ecosystem-based and thus considers that sandeel also forms part of the food base for seabirds and other predators. It is therefore surprising that the results of this are being disregarded.

Read about the closure here


Further information
Kenn Skau Fischer, Director of The Danish Fishers PO, +45 51199537

Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, Director of the Danish Pelagic Producers’ Organization, +45 61660978

Anne Mette Bæk, Director of Marine Ingredients Denmark, +45 50477749

Written by SerieAUKWire

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