Time to Stop Posturing

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

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.

100 million reasons to be careful: Fisheries Science Partnerships

The NFFO has warned that the Government’s plans for spending the £100 million promised by the Prime Minister in the wake of the TCA fiasco in December 2020 to help regenerate the fishing industry, could be siphoned off – with little benefit for grass-roots fishermen.

Annual Fisheries Negotiations: Preparations for 2022 under way

Only a few short months after the annual fisheries agreement for 2021 between the UK and EU was concluded, preparations are under way for talks about total allowable catches and associated rules which will apply in 2022.

Austin Mitchell MP

The fishing industry in England never had a truer, more constant friend in Westminster than Austin Mitchell MP. His commitment to and interest in the fishing industry ran well beyond his constituency interests and lasted beyond his long career as MP for Great Grimsby. Austin was outraged by the UK’s acquiescence to the exploitative relationship on fisheries between the UK and the EEC in 1973 that lay at the heart of the Common Fisheries Policy from its origins. He was rightly suspicious that history would repeat itself in the negotiations leading to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in December 2020. Austin played a significant part the industry’s titanic opposition to the UK Government's attempts to limit time at sea for every fishing vessel in the country, to meet EU fleet reduction targets on the cheap. His rousing speech was the centrepiece of a rally of 3000 fishermen gathered organised by the NFFO in Westminster Hall in July 1992. In hundreds of smaller struggles, and parliamentary debates, Austin was on our side. Gifted with an infection sense of fun, he was none-the-less an impassioned and eloquent parliamentary performer, always taking time to ensure his arguments were soundly based in fact. Sheer force of personality made him a unique and highly visible player in Westminster, even if his maverick political positions on a range of issues denied him the high office that his talents equipped him for.

The Trust Issue

The NFFO takes stock 8 months after the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

HPMA Selection Process Rigged to Harm Fishing Communities

The government’s process to select Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) needs a rethink. It is deliberately relegating human use issues to a second tier to be considered only once sites have been identified exclusively based on a set of ecological criteria. Instead, it should prioritise the search for sites that fulfil ecological criteria in areas where there are synergies with existing human uses of the marine environment.

David Linkie 1954 – 2021

The news of David Linkie’s untimely death will have saddened hearts across the UK fishing industry. As journalist, photographer and editor for Fishing News, David forged a breath-taking range of friendships and contacts across nations, regions, ports, vessel sizes and sectors.

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 Seafarers’ Charity and Commsave Credit Union announce new financial support for fishing families

A revolutionary new initiative funded by The Seafarers’ Charity will provide access to a range of affordable financial services for fishing families. The Fishing Without a Safety Net research commissioned by the Charity demonstrated that new interventions were needed to create a better financial safety net for fishing families. The first significant solution emerging from the research findings sees Commsave Credit Union open its services to the UK fishing community on 14 April 2021.

NFFO Training Trust offers Grants worth £100,000

The NFFO Training Trust, the charity arm of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, has announced that it will be offering grants worth a total of £100,000 to support training and safety in the fishing industry.


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.

No Norway Agreement for 2021

It has become clear that there will be no UK/Norway bilateral fisheries agreement for 2021. At a heads of delegation meeting today (29th April) Norway rejected a UK offer and it was concluded that the talks which have been under way since January could go no further.

UK agrees fishing catch limits with EU and Norway

The UK has reached agreement with the EU and Norway on Total Allowable Catches for jointly managed stocks in the North Sea. The Government statement announcing the deal is reproduced below.

40 Marine Protected Areas in 3 Years

One per month as Government adopts Blitzkrieg approach to management measures.

Future of Inshore Fisheries: Did FOIF die?

The NFFO takes stock of what happened to the Future of Inshore Fisheries Initiative. Amid Covid and the general post-TCA gloom, many are wondering what happened to the Future of Inshore Fisheries initiative. The vivid flash of inspiration and optimism when fishers and managers got together, in October 2019, for the wildly successful FOIF conference seems like an eternity ago. Since then, we have been through the mill and there has been a disturbing silence about the follow up to the conference. The UK’s failure to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit seems like a nail in the coffin lid for the project.

England expects ….. a beating

It may be nothing, but No 10 has replied to the Scottish Fishermen’s letter criticising the outcome of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, whilst the NFFO’s letter has gone unanswered.

From Fisheries Science to Fake News

Media coverage of the fishing industry carries its share of overexcited catastrophe narratives.

NFFO Calls on Political Parties to condemn Greenpeace Vigilantes

The NFFO has written to the leaders of the main political parties, and to UK fisheries ministers and shadows, pressing them to condemn Greenpeace’s most recent publicity stunt in unequivocal terms.

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.

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