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.
“Miniscule, Marginal, Paltry, Pathetic”
26 December 2020
Some of the adjectives that will be in circulation within the UK fishing industry today, to describe the change in UK quota shares as the UK leaves the EU and the CFP, and the content of what was agreed in Brussels on Christmas eve sinks in. Some of the bell-weather stocks tell the story most vividly, After a further five years adjustment period, the UK’s share of Channel cod will have increased from 9.3% to 10.2%.
11 December 2020
A huge miscalculation lies at the heart of the EU’s negotiating strategy as we now head, apparently inexorably, into a future relationship unmediated by an overall framework agreement. The EU have made the assumption that because the EU is a regulatory superpower and because trading on WTO terms would be disadvantageous for the UK, the UK would back down on fish. This conviction has informed the EU’s negotiating mandate from the outset and its unwillingness to negotiate seriously throughout long weeks where talks have produced nothing tangible.
Fisheries Act 2020
13 November 2020
The Fisheries Bill, after a long and at times tortuous journey, has successfully completed its final parliamentary scrutiny stage. The House of Lords accepted the amendments made in the House of Commons and didn’t pass any further amendments of their own. In truth the House of Lords had run out of constitutional ways to shape the legislation.
Macron shift signals start of real fishing talks
19 October 2020
The legal and political realities confronting the EU on fishing have been finally acknowledged by President Macron, in the wake of last week’s EU summit. In a statement reported by a number of news outlets he: “conceded that the post-Brexit arrangements for British seas would not maintain the status quo for the EU fishing fleet.”
Hard – But Brittle
17 October 2020
By creating an artificial linkage between fisheries and a trade agreement, the EU has ensured that the negotiations on a future UK/EU relationship are going down to the wire. Boris Johnson cannot renege on his commitments to the UK fishing industry without devastating political fallout; and there are absolutely no signs that anyone in the British cabinet, or the UK negotiating team, even thinks that this is an option.