The promises of exiting the EU as an independent coastal state brought with it the opportunity to rebalance quota shares to reflect the resource in UK waters and to provide for exclusive UK access to territorial waters within the 12-mile limit, allowing for a system of sustainable fisheries governance responsive and flexible to the natural fluctuations of a self-renewing resource. Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, those goals were not delivered. The EU’s relationship with the UK on fishing rights – especially in relation to access and quota shares – is now in stark contrast with its relationship with Norway, another independent coastal state. Since the 2016 Referendum, the Federation with the support of others, especially Fishmongers Company has campaigned assiduously to see these goals achieved and we will continue to do so. We will also work to see through the implementation of the Fisheries Act the assembly of the nuts and bolts of a management regime that has fishing communities at its heart.
Government Agrees to Second Financial Support Package
21 February 2021
After weeks of lobbying by the NFFO the Government has announced a further tranche of financial support for the fishing industry. An announcement has been made of a rerun of last April’s Fisheries Response Fund under a new heading of Seafood Response Fund, with a number of adjustments and on a UK rather than an England-only basis. The package will draw on the £23 million fund already announced. The NFFO has made the case that if fishing businesses are to survive this extended period of depleted and disrupted markets, over a period then they still face significant fixed costs, then the Government must again step in. The Government has now responded to those concerns.
UK/EU Annual Negotiations: A trial of strength is under way masked by the language of cooperation
15 February 2021
Undermining Regulatory Autonomy: The first few plenary sessions of the negotiations for a UK/EU fisheries agreement for 2021 have provided a glimpse into the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The online talks are currently under way in the wake of the disastrous outcome to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded on Christmas Eve. The terms of that agreement cede automatic access for EU vessels to fish in UK waters (including the 6-12nm zone) for the next 51/2 years. The UK, however, retains regulatory autonomy over the rules which apply to all vessels fishing within the UK exclusive economic zone. A major battle now looms as the EU seeks to undermine and dilute that autonomy, whilst simultaneously paying lip service to it.
Short Straits Export Blockages
7 January 2021
Calais and Boulogne: despite the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU reached on Christmas eve, there is mounting concern over the export of fish to Europe, centering on obstacles in Calais and Boulogne. The first consignments of the year from Cornwall hit a brick wall of bureaucracy, and similar problems are being faced in relation to prawns exported from North Shields and with direct landings into Holland. At the time of writing one consignment of fish had been delayed 48 hours with attendant loss of quality. There were fears that the customer would reject the whole consignment on arrival. Buyers are warning vessels that purchases at first sale markets will soon be impacted if clear export routes across the narrow straits, compliant with the new customs regime cannot be quickly established.