Denmark is one of many EU countries whose coastal towns rely partly on UK waters to keep their businesses afloat, but will lose access to these crucial grounds if Boris Johnson and his colleagues get their way. As an EU member state, the UK was part of the Common Fisheries Policy – an agreement which allowed countries to fish in each others’ waters. But the UK wants to take independent control of its waters, while the EU pushes to keep this access in Brexit trade talks. If a no deal scenario is the conclusion to negotiations, the Danish Prime Minister believes she may have a plan to help her country remain active in British fishing grounds.
In 2017, Denmark built a legal case claiming the countrys historic rights to fish in Britain’s waters date back to the 1400s.
Officials in Copenhagen have mined the archives to build a legal case that could potentially be fought in the international court of justice in The Hague.
Denmarks foreign affairs minister, Anders Samuelsen, told the Guardian at the time that the issue was crucial to many communities in Denmark and that they would be making their case through the EUs chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
He said: “Danish fishermen have historically been fishing across the North Sea. The Common Fisheries Policy in the EU has regulated this, based on historical rights and preserving our common stocks that dont follow economic zones.
“Clearly, this is very important for many fishing communities especially along the Jutland coast, and we all put our full support behind the EUs negotiators to find the best way forward.”
In 2018, another row erupted as some in Denmark warned of retribution if the UK does not keep its fishing grounds open.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Danish Fisheries Association chief Kenn Stau Fischer said that a “trade-off” had to be reached over Brexit.
He explained if Britain bans European boats from its waters, the EU could block the British from selling fish freely in European markets.
Mr Fischer said: “There is a balance here we need to think about.
“If you want access to markets, you need to be able to communicate with people and have a fair discussion about things.”
Danish fisherman Andi Knak, from the harbour town of Thyboron, feared being restricted from fishing in British waters.
He explained in 2018: “It would be catastrophic for us. We cant live without access to British waters.
“It would be catastrophic for our businesses, our communities. It would be very bad.”
Denmark’s government warned the EU’s leading figures that the country’s fishing fleets will suffer “severe” economic consequences unless business-as-usual continues in UK waters.
The claim was made in a Danish impact assessment run by the University of Copenhagen and commissioned by the country’s government.
It compiled data on profit margins and fishing catches from the three years prior, attempting to evaluate how susceptible Denmarks industry is to the far-reaching effects of Brexit.
The study paints a grim picture for Danish fishermen, as three differing scenarios predicted net profit losses could range from as much as 82 percent to 66 percent.
The worst case scenario for the Scandinavian country estimates possible losses if the EU’s vessels are completely excluded from the UK’s economic zone.
The study claimed that this would decimate Danish landing values by 57 percent and profits by more than three-quarters.
Even a modified deal, in which a new UK would allow fishermen to land the top five most important species from the pre-Brexit period, depending on “historical catch patterns”, would more than halve net profits.