It is in a strained atmosphere that European leaders are meeting in Brussels this week for the post-Brexit trade negotiations. Boris Johnson announced that he will decide whether or not to continue negotiations with the EU depending on the outcome of the summit scheduled for today and tomorrow. Among the remaining sticking points between the two parties, the issue of fishing is one of the major challenges of the negotiations.
Based on data taken from Le Télégramme, European fishing is very dependent on British waters. Not only does the United Kingdom have the largest fishing area on the Atlantic/North Sea coast, with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 756 thousand km2 (more than that of France and Spain combined), but the waters that it encompasses are also the richest in fish. The volume of fish caught by EU anglers in UK waters amounts to 760,000 tonnes per year (average over the period 2012-2016), while their UK counterparts bring in only 90,000 tonnes from EU waters by comparison, more than eight times less.
This imbalance in resources is largely due to the natural reproductive cycles of fish in the region. Fish are born and raised on the east coast and in the southern North Sea, before moving as adults to the colder and deeper waters of the UK.