The fishermen are particularly worried about the seas surrounding the northern region of Galicia, as well as the waters close to the Falklands, where 120 boats and 15,000 fishermen work. More than two thirds of the Spanish fishing fleet operating in British waters are registered in Galicia. It is looking increasingly likely that the UK will leave the EU without a deal as Theresa May is struggling to forge a Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc before the deadline of March 29.
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Captain of the Touza Brothers fishing company in Spain, Eligio Blanco, said: “We’re worried, it’s our job, we hope there will be solutions”.
President of the Shipowners Cooperative of the Port of Vigo, Javier Touza, said he was already preparing contingency plans, saying “given the possibility of not having access to resources, given the possibility of implementing very high tariffs”.
The EU Commission has unveiled an emergency plan to compensate fishing crews excluded from UK’s water after a no-deal Brexit.
However, the EU said: “These contingency measures cannot mitigate the overall impact of a ‘no deal’ scenario’.
“As a rule, they will be temporary in nature, limited in scope and adopted unilaterally by the EU.”
The first initiative would allow fishermen excluded from UK waters to seek compensation from an exiting fund.
The second initiative would give the EU powers to allow the British fishing fleet access to European waters until the end of 2019 in exchange for a reciprocal promise from London.
Mrs May has repeatedly said Brexit means Britain will regain control of its water, at the same time France’s President Emmanuel Macron has said he would fight for French fishermen.
In 2015, European fishermen caught 683,000 tonnes of fish in what will become UK waters following Brexit and British boats took 110,000 tonnes from their neighbours.
Spain’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food minister Luis Planas has admitted that the fishing industry could suffer “dramatic consequences” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Planas has said: “We have 80 Spanish vessels in UK fisheries plus another 21 with British and Spanish partners. There are another one hundred vessels flying German, French, Irish and Netherlands flags, with Spanish associates, plus the 25 from Vigo in the Falkland Islands and another 19 operating with the Falklands ensign”.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega