As Britain attempts to assert itself over territorial waters, the Danes look set to invoke what they say are fishing rights dating back centuries.
Since the UK proclaimed it would take back control – including of its waters – the Danish government has delved into archives and records to build a case to keep fishing.
Their argument could be put to The Hague’s International Court of Justice if fishing restrictions harden as the UK leaves the EU.
Denmark currently fishes for a number of species such as cod, mackerel and herring in shared waters.
Officials say 40 percent of Denmark’s annual catch comes from within the 200-mile (320km) exclusion zone around Britain.Some fear that this area will be redrawn after Brexit.
This appears especially problematic given some Danish coastal towns are economically dependent on fishing in British waters.
If brought, the case could be replicated by a number of other EU nations which fish within the zone.
“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 don’t follow economic zones,” Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen told the Guardian.
“Clearly, this is very important for many fishing communities especially along the Jutland coast, and we all put our full support behind the EU’s negotiators to find the best way forward.”
UKIP MEP and fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem said the threat of legal action tells its own story.
“For me, the fact that some EU nations are preparing to take the UK to court over fishing rights highlights just how much of our marine resources have been stolen during 40 years of the EU’s common fisheries policy,” he said.
A government spokesman said: “Leaving the EU is a real opportunity to review fisheries management in the UK.”
“As we begin exit negotiations we will be looking closely at current international fisheries agreements in place and will be working hard to achieve the best possible deal for the whole of the UK fishing industry.”