Brexit plunges EU fishing into troubled waters

A sail boat passes a large commercial vessel as it enters the harbor at The Headland area of Hartlepool, northern England on March 8, 2017. EU fishing fleets are increasingly anxious about their future access to teeming British waters as Britain prepares to trigger the two-year countdown to its exit from the bloc. (AFP / OLI SCARFF)
Updated 26 March 2017

Brexit plunges EU fishing into troubled waters

BRUSSELS, Belgium: EU fishing fleets are increasingly anxious about their future access to teeming British waters as Britain prepares to trigger the two-year countdown to its exit from the bloc.
Fleets from nine EU countries including France, Germany and Spain have banded together in a newly-created European Fisheries Alliance, formerly launched at the European Parliament last week, warning of steep losses if divorce proceedings turn bitter.
Alain Vidalies, France’s secretary of state for fisheries, stressed in Paris last week “the importance of preserving fairness between European and British fleets” post-Brexit.
European fleets obtain one-third of their catch in the exclusive economic zone around the British Isles, and loss of access to those waters could cut their profits in half in the short term, the fishing alliance says.
In the long term, EU fleets could lose a combined 500 to 600 vessels if they were excluded from British waters, representing 15 percent of the total, and up to 3,000 fleet jobs.
Industry officials are pressing for negotiations on Britain’s post-Brexit future to include continued access to British waters.
“If you don’t want to pay 30 percent tariffs you will have to negotiate. Negotiations should be tied to access to the market,” Ivan Lopez Van der Veen, who represents the Spanish fishing association Pesquera Ancora, said at the EU Parliament last week.
Non-British EU vessels currently land almost eight times more fish and shellfish by weight from British waters than UK boats, or almost five times more by value, said Ian Napier, senior policy adviser at the NAFC Marine Center, based on Scotlands’ Shetland Islands.
From 2011 to 2015, European fleets caught 700,000 tons of fish and seafood in British waters, valued at about 530 million pounds (612 million euros, $660 million), the NAFC said in a report published in January.
British vessels, by contrast, caught just 92,000 tons, valued at 110 million pounds, in other EU waters.
And the European Fisheries Alliance notes that Britain cannot eat all the salmon, lobster, scallops and other fish and seafood its boats produce: about 70 percent of production, worth a billion euros a year, is exported to its European partners.
Despite this, a UK parliament White Paper published in December found that the majority of fish consumed in Britain are imported.
“Continued access to free, or preferential, trade in fish and seafood will therefore be crucial for the seafood industry and UK consumers” after Brexit, the paper said.
And depending on whether Britain negotiates a “hard” or “soft” exit, the viability of dozens of fishing centers, from Concarneau in France and Rostock in Germany to Galway in Ireland or Gdansk in Poland, could be at stake.
But others say that leaving the EU would give Britain a chance to revive homegrown fleets.
“Brexit is an opportunity for the UK to revitalize its fishing industry, stabilize threatened ecosystems and create thousands of new jobs,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director in Europe for Oceana, an environmental advocacy group.
“But this will only happen if overfishing is stopped.”

Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

Updated 58 min 10 sec ago

Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

  • Devoted dad overcomes strict traditions on female roles in hope of seeing girl become town’s first female doctor

PAKISTAN: Devoted Afghan dad Mia Khan has been hailed for going the extra mile to help his daughter achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.

Every day, the daily wage laborer, from Sharan city in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, travels 12 km on his motorcycle to take Rozai to school.

And when classes end, he is there for the long and hazardous journey home through tough borderland terrain.

“You know, we don’t have any female doctors in our town. It is my ultimate wish to see my daughter as its first female doctor. I want her to serve humanity,” Khan told Arab News.

Paktika shares a 300 km border with Pakistan’s newly merged tribal districts of North and South Waziristan and parts of Balochistan province, where powerful patriarchal norms still dictate most women’s lives.

But Rozai and her father are determined to buck the trend through her tuition at Nooranya School, a community educational institution built by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

Rozai told Arab News: “We have to travel a long distance and I would like for a school to be established closer to our home. We are often tired (from our journey) when we arrive at school and sometimes, we are late.”

Saif-ur-Rehman Shahab, a representative of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, told Arab News that Khan, who has for years taken his children to school on a motorcycle, deserved all the plaudits he could get. Khan has two sons and seven daughters.

“Khan gets his children, specifically his daughter Rozai, educated in a very challenging situation. We have deteriorating security and poor awareness about girls’ education here. Khan is facing acute financial challenges working as a daily wage laborer. I deeply appreciate him for facing all these challenges boldly to educate his daughter,” Shahab said.

Hikmat Safi, an adviser to Afghanistan’s chief executive, said Khan’s passion was an inspiration to others. “Amid brewing insecurity coupled with cultural limitations, this is a really positive change when people like Khan come out to educate their children, primarily daughters.”

Nooranya School has 220 female students and is one of hundreds of community-based classes and schools, predominantly attended by girls, set up by the committee in various parts of Paktika province.