UK fishermen see Brexit boom, but there's a catch

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Britain's vote to leave the EU has cast a shadow over the future of Europe's fishermen who fear that the British government could take control of the fish-rich waters around the British Isles and kick Europeans out of their patch.

BRITAIN (REUTERS) Ripples are appearing in the tranquil waters surrounding the British isles.

Fishermen on both sides of the pond are analysing a post-brexit world that's stirring serious debate.

"The worse thing would of course be if they completely shut down fishing for non-Brits in their territorial waters. But we honestly think that it affects so many people in France from Brittany to the border with Belgium, it affects all the neighbouring countries," said director of the Etaploise Maritime Cooperative, Eric Gosselin.

European fishermen fear the British government will take control of the fish-rich waters and kick them out of their patch.

That could see revenues halved and a 15 per cent hit to trawlermen's wages

But for decades Britain's fisherman say they've had the raw deal, with EU catch quotas set unfairly.

"So we hope for better access to water, so that means restricting the access of EU vessels into the UK water and having some access ourselves to the EU waters, access to fishing quotas, so to right the wrong the poor shares we've got now, we want to see those improved," said Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation.

The EU does still have one hook - continued access to the essential EU market.

Trade is yet to come up in official Brexit negotiations, but that catch could be dangled - when it comes to divvying up the seas.

The UK exports about 75 per cent of its seafood to EU members, and imports most of what it consumes.

Emilie Gelard who is in charge of Brexit at France's fishermen's association, CNPMEM, says: "What matters is where the fish is. The fish didn't vote for Brexit and he doesn't know about borders so that's why I said that turning to other fishing spots would be literally impossible."

British fishermen were among the most vocal supporters of the June 2016 vote to leave the EU, but negotiations will need to be a balancing act.

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