Type to search

Commercial Fishing



5 things you need to know about the Fisheries Bill. The Fisheries Bill introduced by the UK Government yesterday (29 January) is the first piece of primary fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years. As the UK leaves the European Union it will allow the UK to move away from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and build a future as an independent coastal state.

The UK Government says key features of the Bill are powers that will enable the UK to:

  • control access to UK waters
  • improve how the UK manages fisheries and supports the industry

The Government also says that underpinning everything is their commitment to sustainability.

This new Fisheries Bill has given the opportunity to make a number of enhancements, maintaining key policies while strengthening others, claims the Government

The Government has also published ‘Five things you need to know about the Fisheries Bill, which Fish Focus has reproduced below here in its entirety:

  1. Leaving the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy

Our Bill means that access to fish in UK waters will be on the UK’s terms for the first time in 40 years.

Leaving the EU means we will leave CFP at the end of December 2020.

We will move away from a situation where our share of fish is based on outdated fishing patterns from the 1970’s towards a fairer share of fishing opportunities based on where the fish are.

The Bill also ends current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in British waters. In future, access to fish in UK waters will be a matter for the UK to negotiate and we will decide on the rules that foreign vessels must follow.

Our fishing communities are immensely valuable and supporting them will form an important part of our exit from the EU. The Bill includes an objective requiring each UK administration to set out its policies to achieve economic, social and employment benefits as well as how fishing contributes to food supply.

We remain committed to ongoing co-operation with the EU and other coastal states over the management of shared stocks.

  1. Fisheries management plans and Maximum Sustainable Yield

We remain fully committed to sustainable fishing and the principle of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) as set out in our Fisheries White Paper and the 25 Year Environment Plan. The Bill restates this commitment by introducing a set of sustainability objectives, building upon the objectives within the Common Fisheries Policy.

And the Bill will now go even further by including a requirement that legally binding plans are produced, which will set out actions to manage our stocks sustainably within a complex ecosystem, including restoring them to MSY as quickly as practically possible and in line with our international obligations.

The UK has long championed sustainable fisheries management, and we will continue to work with coastal states, Member States and the European Commission to support the recovery of our fish stocks and the wider marine environment, ensuring the long-term prosperity of those who depend on these precious resources.

Through our scientific evidence objective, we will place science-based fisheries management at the heart of future policy.

The Fisheries Bill also includes a precautionary objective. The precautionary approach goes hand in hand with the other objectives and demonstrates our commitment to recovering both our stocks to sustainable levels and the wider marine environment to good status.

Further details about how we will achieve sustainable fisheries will be outlined in the legally binding Joint Fisheries Statement and the Fisheries Management Plans.

  1. Funding available

New funding powers are included in the Bill for both the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations. This will mean that outside the EU the UK Government can continue to provide valuable financial support for our fishermen, helping them to adjust to life outside the EU, improve port infrastructure and fish more sustainably.

  1. Sustainability and climate change

Healthy fish stocks are the first step to vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Our Fisheries Bill sets out our commitment to sustainable fishing with its inclusion as the first objective in the Joint Fisheries Statement, which will be drafted and then committed to by the UK Government and the devolved administrations. We’ve also included a new climate change objective which recognises the impact of fishing on the health of our oceans.

New provisions in the Bill mean the UK will consider climate change impacts on its fisheries, with a new objective to move us towards climate-smart fishing in UK waters. Last year we became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end our contribution to global warming by 2050 and the Fisheries Bill will reinforce this.

We will honour commitments under goal 14 of the UN’s sustainable development goals to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, including its targets for 2020. We will continue to work with our European partners to regulate fishing and to set harvest rates that restore and maintain fish stocks at least to levels that can produce Maximum Sustainable Yield.

As we leave the EU, we are committed to working closely with our partners including the EU, Norway and Faroe Islands to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way.

We will also extend the MMOs powers to allow them to provide advice and assistance on sustainable fisheries, marine planning, licensing and conservation beyond UK waters to support the delivery of the Blue Belt programme.

  1. Extending Welsh and Scottish Government powers

Fisheries is devolved and this Bill respects that. The Bill now contains even more powers for the Devolved Administrations at their request.

Another change in the Bill is including a single set of UK-wide fisheries objectives which all the administrations will have to achieve. This allows for policy across the UK to vary as is necessary for different administrations, whilst ensuring the coherence of a shared end goal. This will ultimately ensure that fish stocks, and the marine environment, are better protected.