RULES ON ACCESS OF EU FISHING VESSELS TO UK WATERS
Rules on access of EU fishing vessels to UK waters. The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), applicable on a provisional basis from 1 January 2021.
The text of the agreement and a detailed list of questions and answers, including on fisheries have been published.
As of 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom and the EU will cooperate under the TCA also in the domain of fisheries (TCA Heading Five: Fisheries). Both Parties will exercise the coastal state rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing the living marine resources in their waters.
As part of the TCA, and during a transition period until 30 June 2026, each of the Parties have agreed to grant to vessels of the other Party full access to its waters to fish specified TAC and non-quota stocks in the respective Excusive Economic Zones (EEZs, 12-200 nautical miles); and in a specified part of the waters of the Parties between six and twelve nautical miles (Annex FISH.4, Article 2); and to the so-called Crown dependencies of the UK (Article FISH.10), under the conditions as referred to in this Annex.
In absence of TACs agreed for 2021 between the EU and the UK for the jointly managed and shared fish stocks, the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers has agreed temporary fishing opportunities during on 17 December.
Regarding fisheries, the UK and European Union authorities seek to ensure a smooth transition on 1 January, including on the granting of access to each Party’s waters, for vessels of the other Party.
The European Commission has made significant progress since the TCA was agreed between Parties to ensure with the UK authorities as much as possible continuity of fishing activities in UK waters from 1 January (and on our side, for UK vessels to EU waters).
Both Parties are informed of the lists of vessels of the other Party, for which authorisations and licences to fish in respective waters are requested.
Both Parties are in permanent contact on the authorisation process, with the aim to ensure provisional licencing (by groups of vessels) that would authorise the vessels concerned to operate in the other Party’s EEZ as of 1 January 2021. Due to internal proceedings, the UK can only issue the licenses as of 12 pm midnight of 31 December (Brussels time).
Once these lists are issued, the Commission will immediately inform the Member States concerned of the lists of vessels that are licensed to fish in UK waters.
Vessels will receive a licence in accordance with the respective Parties’ laws. For the UK, this implies a temporary licence awaiting the Full Licence to be delivered in the weeks after 1 January. The duration of the definitive license would be for the whole year 2021 subject to respect of the UK’s administrative licencing requirements.
The lists of licenced vessels (with access to the UK 12-200 nm waters) can be found as of 12 pm midnight at the following address, which will be updated in the coming days with the temporary licences for access to waters between 6 and 12 nautical miles, crown dependencies and for other additional vessels:
After 31 December 2020, and until a license is issued, an EU Member State flagged vessel has no right to fish in UK waters, and needs to refrain from fishing in UK waters. This is the default situation until vessels have confirmation that they can go and fish in UK waters, through (temporary) licensing. Only when a vessel owner has ascertained the license to fish in UK waters, the vessel can sail and engage in fishing activities in those waters.
Control and enforcement authorities of both Parties will remain vigilant to the respect of vessels of the rights, obligations and conditions under which fishing in the other Party’s waters are authorized. .
At this stage, the licencing is limited to the fishing in the EEZ of the UK. This will allow the continuity of the activities of the large majority of the EU fleets.
For access to the 6-12 nm zone, the UK and the EU are in the process of verification of the corresponding conditions, as set out in the Annex 4 of the Fisheries Heading of the TCA. The authorities of both Parties have committed to a swift handling of the requests for access to the 6-12 nm zone. Member States will be informed as soon as possible of the results of these verifications.
Vessels that receive a (temporary) licence to fish in the 12-200 nm waters have no right to enter the 6-12 nm zone until they receive the license to fish in the latter zone.
As regards the access to the waters of the Crown Dependencies, the Commission services have submitted specific lists of vessels with the request for access. These lists are currently examined and verification against the corresponding conditions as in Annex 4 of the Fisheries Heading still needs finalisation. Licenses will be issued after this process is completed, and also here the Parties have committed to swift handling of the requests.
It is clear that vessels that are authorised and licenced to fish in the UK waters, will need to respect the UK rules in those waters. The UK, under its recently adopted Fisheries Act, has integrated many technical and other conditions of the Common Fisheries Policy into its policy framework. But there are certain rules that diverge from these general measures. The UK has kindly provided the EU with an information note.