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 ensure that the implementation of the Fisheries Act and the assembly of the nuts and bolts of the new management regime has fishing communities at its heart.
Negotiations Approach Endgame
8 December 2021
Five separate strands within the complex intertwined negotiations for fisheries agreements for 2022 are approaching their endgames. There seems to be a determination by all parties to avoid the extended, painful, process witnessed earlier this year which stalled agreements for 2021 until 5 months into the year to which they apply.
Time to Stop Posturing
14 October 2021
A recent event in Lorient, Brittany, provided some insight into the main themes in post-Brexit fishing relations. The seminar mainly involved French fishing industry figures and fisheries administrators, with a smattering of other EU notables and a handful of participants from the UK fishing industry, including the NFFO.
NFFO Demands Transparency over TCA Deal
30 September 2021
The UK fishing industry was shocked at the scale of the UK’s capitulation on fishing on Christmas Eve, 2020. This was a decision made at the highest reaches of Government. And it was made, despite the promises, commitments and assurances made during the Referendum Campaign and throughout the negotiations with the EU. Additional quota shares secured from the EU came nowhere close to what any self-respecting coastal state might expect as their legal right. Access to fish in UK waters – a key bargaining lever in annual fisheries negotiations – was ceded to the EU for 6 years (at least). We even failed to secure an exclusive 12 mile limit, something that most coastal states take for granted.
UK-EU Fisheries Agreement: Taking Stock
11 June 2021
The UK and EU have just concluded their first annual bilateral fisheries agreement made under the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The negotiations and annual agreement have been heavily shaped and constrained by the limitations imposed by the TCA. The outcomes also reflect the UK’s new legal status as an independent coastal state. The tensions created by these two divergent trajectories go a long way to explaining the shape and content of the deal for 2021.
UK-EU Fisheries Agreement for 2021
7 June 2021
The marathon 5-month negotiation between the UK and the EU for a fisheries agreement for 2021 has concluded with a settlement. Some details on the written record are still being finalised but the Secretary of State for the UK and the Fisheries Commissioner for the EU have both announced agreement in principle.
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.