Fishing row erupts as Italian MEP issues warning: ’Unacceptable to give tuna quotas to UK’

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Rosa D’Amato branded Brussels’ plans “unacceptable” and arrogantly demanded that Brexit Britain be completely pushed out of the deal because we have no “specific tradition” of tuna fishing. The Greens/European Free Alliance politician’s inflammatory tweet came after it emerged that Brexit could cause major problems for Italy’s tuna industry.

As previously reported, the UK’s exit from the bloc will “result in a new distribution of the catch quotas managed worldwide by ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas).”

Despite the UK being awarded a measly 0.25 percent of the EU’s overall annual quota – pedantic Italian fishermen have insisted it be reduced to nothing.

Looking to gain political capital by mirroring these views, the Europhile politician tweeted: “It’s unacceptable to give tuna quotas to the UK; give them to our small-scale fishermen.

“It is unacceptable that in order to reach an agreement on fishing with the United Kingdom after Brexit, the EU is considering giving bluefin tuna quotas to the British, which certainly does not have a specific tradition in this regard.

“(Economic) Minister (Stefano) Patuanelli strongly opposes this proposal, which would affect our sector.

“The Italian share must not be touched. If anything, the allocation criteria should be revised, increasing the tonnes of bluefin tuna destined for small-scale fishing.

“In the European Parliament we had obtained a text in which the EU proposed to allocate more quotas to small-scale fishing.

“But the Member States, including Italy, rejected our request.”

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The ICCAT distributes quotas every year between EU and non-EU countries.

A meeting of Brussels ministers which took place earlier this week considered giving the UK a share to the detriment of the EU’s tuna quota.

The news has sparked fury in Italy, where lobby group Fedagripesca-Confcooperative is demanding that “the problem be addressed”.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said: “The hypothesis under consideration by the EU is to give Great Britain a share of 0.25 percent (of its overall catch) equal to about 90 tonnes.”

In a bid to stop the proposals from becoming law, it has called on Mr Patuanelli to fight for Brussels to reject the proposal.

And, with the key tuna fishing season beginning in May, it is keen to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Italian producers are already focusing on a “Made in Italy” tuna brand that trades on “the quality of both fresh and processed products,” Fedagripesca-Confcooperative said.

Fishing has long been a bone of contention in trade talks and even threatened to derail last year’s Brexit deal.

An 11th-hour agreement was struck, which resulted in changes to the fishing quotas enjoyed by European vessels in British waters.

This ensures that 25 percent of EU boats’ fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to the British fleet over a period of five years.

After that, annual negotiations will decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU, and Britain would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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