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Gerard van Balsfoort keynote speaker City University of London

14 June 2021

Gerard van Balsfoort keynote speaker City University of London


This week, Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) president Gerard van Balsfoort had been the keynote speaker on a webinar of The City of Law School – University of London. This webinar was part of a workshop about Legal Challenges Faced by Coastal and Fishing Communities, Brexit, and the New British Fisheries Policy.


This workshop aimed to bring together different leading fisheries experts from academia, industry, and policy to share their expertise, views and experience on the challenges and consequences that Brexit brought after the United Kingdom left the Common Fisheries Policy.


In his role as a leading person in the EU fishing industry (chair European Union Fisheries Alliance / vice-president Europêche), Van Balsfoort spoke about what Brexit has brought the UK and EU fishing industries with the title: Why is (almost) everybody complaining?


He noted that after Brexit virtually everyone in the EU and UK seafood industries  - with the notable exception of the Scottish pelagic fishing companies – was complaining and found themselves in a rather dire situation. He also noted that the UK as a new coastal state in the Northeast Atlantic really has stirred up an already complex fisheries management system. We have seen one consequence of this already by the unilateral increase by Norway and the Faroe Islands of their respective mackerel shares with 55%.


Van Balsfoort pointed to the fact that the EU and the UK share a very large number of fish stocks that need joint, proper management and that would only be possible by accepting that both parties are heavily interlinked with many mutual dependencies: one is more dependent on access to the other party’s waters and the other more on access to the other party’s market. To be constructive, collaborative and reasonable is the only way forward to avoid a situation that fish stocks are badly managed.

He concluded by stating that:


  1. the UK government badly failed in its expectation management towards its own fishing industry which has led to overpromising and underdelivering. This needs time to heal.
  2. the process by which the UK will find its place as a new coastal state among the other coastal states in the Northeast Atlantic will take time. During this time a turbulent situation in the Northeast Atlantic, when it comes to fisheries management, is to be expected.
  3. the EU has for the first time played strongly and successfully trade as a trump card during the negotiations on the Brexit fisheries agreement. As far as the EU fishing industry is concerned trade will be centrally placed in future fisheries negotiations from now on. In other words, access to the Single Market comes with a price.


The results of this workshop with different webinars will lead to the publication of the “Fisheries in a Post-Brexit World – Economic, Legal and Policy Implications for the UK and the EU” monograph by Routledge.



PFA represents the interests of nine European freezer-trawler companies involved in pelagic fishing activities for human consumption.

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