11th Hour


The NFFO reiterates what is at stake as negotiations with the EU reach the inevitable endgame

As the negotiations with the EU enter the 11th hour, rumours are swirling around in the media about what each side has offered and counter offered, as the two side seek a trade deal and an acceptable compromise on fishing rights. Many of these rumours have been wildly inaccurate during earlier phases in the negotiations, and so we will wait for the definitive briefing from the UK negotiators, or the Prime Minister, before making comment.

In these fraught and uncertain times, though, it is worth reiterating what is at stake.

The UK fishing industry (and the UK government) have been clear that as the UK leaves the EU and the transition phase, what we seek is an outcome consistent with our new status as an independent coastal state:

  • Negotiated, not automatic, rights over access to fish in UK waters
  • Annual fisheries agreements which set TACs, agree quota shares, access arrangements and where mutually beneficial, quota exchanges
  • An exclusive 12-mile limit to protect our inshore fisheries
  • A rebalancing of quota shares to reflect the resources in UK waters
  • Frictionless, access to market to the extent that this without surrendering sovereign fishing rights

These rights are only those which any self-respecting coastal state which shares stocks with a neighbouring country enjoys. It is only the distorting effect of the Common Fisheries Policy over the last 40 years that means the gulf that has now to be crossed is so wide. Those objectives have been shared by the Government throughout the negotiations and the extent to which they are reflected in a final deal (and the assurances given) will be the measure against which the deal will be judged.