EUROPEAN fisheries ministers begin two days of talks today to address concerns within the sector as the Brexit deadline looms ever closer.

There are fears that European fleets could be given access to UK waters in exchange for city financiers being allowed favourable access to the bloc’s financial services markets after January 31, the date scheduled for the UK’s withdrawal.

However, the head of one Scottish fisheries organisation has said the debate is couched in “glib language” and “no-one knows what it actually means”.

Fiona Matheson, secretary of the Orkney Fisheries Association, said the subject of quotas was a “non-issue”.

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“Much of it, especially in England and Wales, is owned by foreign companies,” she said.

“The nominal UK ownership of that quota is under a ‘flagged’ system where the vessels may be registered in the UK but the companies owned outwith.

She continued: “For England especially where much quota is already owned by European Union companies, they would most likely be seeking a retention of their status quo.”

Matheson said the reality was that there would only be significant change if the EU’s method of allocating catch on a 20-year-old method of relative stability has updated. This sees a snapshot of the percentage

of fish for each EU state fixed at that point in time irrespective of the location of where they were found.

Matheson said much of the industry would like to see allocations change from the current system to one that reflects the area of sea where the fish are found, which would benefit Scotland hugely.

She added: “Some sectors of the industry feel that much could be done domestically at UK and Scottish level in terms of fairer allocation of what the UK/Scottish governments currently have responsibility for.”