Belgian fishermen are welcome back to British waters for the first time since the new trade agreements with the United Kingdom, according to Belgian Minister Hilde Crevits on Twitter on Saturday. The minister for Agriculture and Fisheries writes that the necessary licences have been granted to 17 of the 18 fishermen who catch their fish off the British coast.
With the new licences, the 17 fishermen will be able to release their nets into the 12-mile zone off the coast of the British island. They had lost access to it on 1 January, when the British officially retired from the European system of rules.
British waters are vital to Belgian fishermen. About half of the fish caught by Belgians come from the waters of the neighbours. The Belgian fishing fleet catches mainly tongues and plaice there.
The renewed trade agreements guarantee access to British waters for a period of more than five years. However, there should be less capture than before. In total, the UK receives an additional EUR 1.6 billion in fishing value due to the new trade relationship with the EU.
The licences for Belgian fishermen do not mean that Dutch fishermen are allowed to do so. Fishermen from our country have been banned from fishing in the UK’s six-to-twelve-mile zone for 40 years. Only French and Belgian fishermen are allowed to do so. Dutch fishermen flying a Belgian flag may, provided they have the necessary licence, fish in that zone.