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Commercial Fishing



UK Government outlines tough position on post-Brexit fishing. The UK Government has launched its official 30 page document on its position for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, which includes the adoption of a tough stance on fishing.

The document says the UK is ready to consider an agreement on fisheries that reflects the fact that the UK will be an independent coastal state at the end of 2020. It should provide a framework for the UK’s future relationship on matters relating to fisheries with the EU. This would be in line with precedent for EU fisheries agreements with other independent coastal states.

Trade in fisheries products should be covered by the Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement – in other words not linked to fisheries access.

The document states: “Overall, the framework agreement on fisheries should provide a clear basis for an on-going relationship with the EU, akin to the EU’s relationship with other coastal states, one that respects the UK’s status as an independent coastal state and the associated rights and obligations that come with this.

“Any such framework agreement on fisheries should cover access to fish in UK and EU waters, fishing opportunities and future cooperation on fisheries management, as follows.

  • It should set out the scope and process for annual negotiations on access to the parties’ exclusive economic zones and fishing opportunities (total allowable catch and shares).
  • Fishing opportunities should be negotiated annually based on the best available science for shared stocks provided by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The UK will no longer accept the ‘relative stability’ mechanism for sharing fishing quotas, which is outdated, based on historical fishing activity from the 1970s. This means that future fishing opportunities should be based on the principle of zonal attachment, which better reflects where the fish live, and is the basis for the EU’s fisheries agreement with Norway.
  • Any EU vessels granted access to fish in UK waters in annual negotiations would be required to comply with UK rules and would be subject to licensing requirements including reporting obligations. New fisheries management measures will be notified in good time.
  • The UK is committed to acting as a responsible coastal state and to working closely with the EU and its Member States and other coastal states on the sustainable management of shared stocks in line with our international obligations. The UK is, therefore, open to providing, in the agreement on fisheries, for the creation of a forum for cooperation on wider fisheries matters outside of annual negotiations. This could include cooperation on matters to support responsible fisheries management, such as data-sharing, science and control and enforcement.
  • It should include provisions for sharing vessel monitoring data and information to deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. If annual negotiations provide for access to fish in UK waters, then additional data-sharing would be required for control and enforcement. As part of an agreement on fisheries, the parties could agree to designate additional ports under the rules of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) to ensure each other’s vessels are able to land in those ports.
  • It should include arrangements for dispute settlement along the lines common to other fisheries agreements, including provision for the suspension of the agreement on fisheries if necessary.
  • The UK will be negotiating separate fisheries framework agreements with other independent coastal states, notably Norway.
  • The UK Government recognises the interests of the devolved administrations in this area and is committed to working with them in the consideration of any agreement.