For the last 34 years, the policy quota has given 84 percent of cod caught in British territory to the country’s southern neighbour, according to Britain’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO).
The quota system is one of the biggest sources of frustration for British fishermen, who were among the most vocal supporters of the historic June 2016 vote to leave the EU.
Since the then-Prime Minister Edward Heath allowed foreign vessels into UK waters in a late concession to seal the deal of joining the bloc in 1973, the development of the EU’s fisheries policy has sparked fury among British fishermen.
The common policy also means 66 percent of haddock caught in the southwest of England has gone to France since it was launched while 10 percent goes to France.
At the moment 60 percent of Britain’s fishing stock, worth £650million a year, is caught by vessels from EU nations.
Under the Common Fisheries Policy, EU vessels caught 10 times more fish from our EU waters than Britain did in EU waters in 2016.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed in June that after Brexit, British fishermen will have exclusive rights to fish in a 12-mile zone around our coast.
NFFO chief executive Barrie Deas said: “Given the EU fleets take about four times as much fish out of UK waters as we take out of EU waters… the expectation is there will be a lot more fish (for UK fisherman).”
As Britain prepares to negotiate a two-year transition agreement with Brussels, fishermen believe they may be getting a raw deal.
The arrangement proposed by the bloc would leave the UK in the EU’s common fisheries policy for at least the next two years but without a seat at the table to defend its interests in crucial negotiations.
British fishermen say they would be at the whim of rivals from France and Spain, for example, when it comes to dividing quotas and agreeing regulations.
David Stevens, a fisherman based in Newlyn, a Cornish fishing village that hugs the coast next to Penzance, told The Financial Times: “They would absolutely rip us to shreds. It would be insane.
“It’s something that will never be forgotten.
“We don’t want to be betrayed again. We’ve waited for this opportunity to come for years.”
Paul Trebilcock, head of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said: “If you were kind, the French defended their interests very well.
“Or, another way is: they did cheat and stole from the UK and we’ve suffered ever since.”
Brussels has promised to accommodate the UK during the transition period — even if it will no longer have a formal say in the all-important December fisheries council, an annual gathering where quotas are carved up.