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EU fisheries ministers awaiting Brexit deal to conclude own talks

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By Christopher Pitchers
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EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers talk at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.
EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers talk at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.   -   Copyright  Francisco Seco/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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An agreement on Brexit must be reached before the EU can finish its own talks on fishing opportunities for 2021, according to Germany's fisheries minister.

Julia Klöckner, the federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, spoke on Tuesday evening following an annual meeting of European fishing ministers in Brussels where the following year's fishing opportunities are discussed.

She said that "as long as Brexit talks are not concluded," an agreement between member states "cannot be fully reached".

Ministers meet every December to discuss the limits to which fish can be caught and where exactly fishing is allowed in European waters.

The EU implemented sweeping reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2013 to try and make fishing more sustainable, committing all member states to end the practice of overfishing by 2015.

A backstop deadline of 2020 was included as the latest to achieve this goal, but this has been missed by the EU.

Environmentalists believe that the EU is risking the sustainability of fish stocks by putting the industry's interests ahead of the health of the waters.

They want Europe to demonstrate leadership in looking after the ocean, by setting fishing limits in line with scientific advice and end overfishing.

"The key thing about this Council [meeting] is that the EU has said it is committed to climate action, that it's committed to ending overfishing and that it wants to be a leader on ocean governance," Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director at Our Fish, said.

"So if it can't even set its fishing limits in line with scientific advice, then it sends a very bad message that it's actually not very serious about ending this war on nature," she added.