UK-EU Fisheries Agreement: Taking Stock

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

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.


The blockade of St Helier by French fishing vessels and the somewhat hysterical political over-reaction that has included threats to cut off electricity supplies to the island, will hopefully pass without further escalation, when calmer heads are engaged.

Government Agrees to Second Financial Support Package

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.

The Blame Game

The Herald has published a partial version of the NFFO’s response to ex-MEP Struan Stevenson’s criticisms of the fishing industry. Below we publish the full version.

NFFO Keeps Pressure on for Financial Support

The NFFO has written again to Secretary of State, George Eustice and Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, for a second trance of financial support for fishing businesses which are struggling to survive.

UK/EU Annual Negotiations: A trial of strength is under way masked by the language of cooperation

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.

NFFO calls for financial support

The NFFO has written urgently to fisheries ministers making the case for a further tranche of financial support under the Fisheries Response Fund

Need Should be Basis For Additional Quota

The NFFO has written to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, arguing that additional quota secured from the EU should be first and foremost use to address cases where acute quota shortages threaten the viability of fishing vessels.

A letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

The NFFO has written in strong terms to the Prime Minister about the Government's portrayal of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a success on fisheries:

Short Straits Export Blockages

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.

Taking Stock and Moving Forward

As the old year faded away, and the new year dawns, we lick our wounds and take stock of the tasks that lie in front of us.

Negotiations Outcome

The NFFO weighs up the deal agreed between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve How, when on fishing rights the UK held all the cards, did we end up with such a paltry result in the UK/EU negotiations for a future relationship?

“Miniscule, Marginal, Paltry, Pathetic”

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%.

Fisheries Deal 24th December 2020

The NFFO will be publishing its reaction shortly to the deal concluded in Brussels this afternoon. In the meantime, please find below, our bare bones understanding of the content of the fisheries section of the agreement.

11th Hour

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

No Deal looms without a major EU shift on fish

Negotiations remain on knife-edge

Fatal Miscalculation

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.

Boris Johnson’s Edward Heath Moment

The NFFO takes stock of the negotiations for a UK/EU fisheries deal, after the remaining issues blocking a deal have been elevated to the political realm

Preparing for the end of the transition period

The top team at the Marine Management Organisation use the Fathom broadcast to discuss preparations for the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020.

Myth and Bluster

The NFFO responds to an article in the Irish Times that asserts the UK position in negotiations is based on "myth-making and bluster" as it seeks to reset its fisheries relationship with the EU.

Fisheries Act 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.

Fishing Goes to the Wire

As negotiations between the UK and the EU on a future partnership agreement move into their final stages, the NFFO takes stock and reaffirms the fishing industry’s aims.

Macron shift signals start of real fishing talks

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.”

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