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.”

Hard – But Brittle

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.

Opinion Piece

Barrie Deas Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations Why the UK won’t back down on fisheries

UK Fishing Industry to Government and Parliament: “Hold Firm and Keep Your Promises to Fishermen”

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, who together represent the UK fishing industry, held talks with senior UK politicians today (07 October) calling on them to hold firm on the commitments made to fishermen and coastal communities ahead of the 15 October Brexit negotiations deadline.


The ninth round of negotiations with the EU has now concluded. It was followed by a weekend call between the Prime Minister and EU Commission President, Ursula von der Lyon, to take stock before the next and possibly final stage.

NFFO Welcomes UK/Norway Fisheries Agreement

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation has welcomed the signature of a fisheries framework agreement between UK and Norway. The agreement was signed by Secretary of State, George Eustice, and the Norwegian Fisheries Minister, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen today. This development is another important milestone towards the UK’s future as an independent coastal state.

Fishing Centre Stage in EU Negotiations

Negotiations with the EU have bounced back centre stage, as time to reach an agreement of the UK’s future relationship with the EU runs out. Both parties have said that mid-October is the latest point that a deal could be signed in time for the ratification procedures to take place before the end of the transition period on 31st December.

Joint statement from SFF and NFFO on Brexit negotiations

Elspeth Macdonald and Barrie Deas, chief executives of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) respectively, said: “For the fishing industry in the UK, leaving the Common Fisheries Policy has always been about redressing a fundamental issue: the woefully unfair allocation of quota shares in our waters, where the EU fleet has an unfettered right of access to the UK’s rich fishing grounds and fish five times more in UK waters than we fish in theirs.

NFFO Reiterates Key Positions as Negotiations Intensify

It is difficult to glean much from the official statements made by the EU and the UK after each round in the intensified UK/EU negotiations on their future relationship. Every statement has to be understood in terms of each side positioning for advantage in the talks. The overall impression, however, is quite substantial progress on many fronts but very wide gaps on a few – including a huge gulf on fisheries. The political ambition on both sides is to reach a deal but the Prime Minister and Chief Negotiator, David Frost, have made it clear that on fisheries the EU will have to travel a very long way from its current position – which is very close to the status quo – if a deal is to be made. The Commission is operating under a mandate from the member states which makes compromise impossible. These two opposing factors make the likelihood on no deal, at present, the most likely outcome. In the event of no-deal on a fisheries framework agreement, the EU would have to make a judgement whether the self-harm it would inflict on itself as well as the UK, by withholding a trade deal, would be the right course of action, notwithstanding the rhetoric generated throughout the negotiations. If it made good on its threats, the UK would trade with the EU on WTO terms from 1st January.

Fisheries Bill Lords Amendments Virtue Signalling vs Sustainable Fisheries Management

Of the eight objectives included in the Fisheries Bill, five of them relate to fishing sustainably. And that’s fine. Without a functioning ecosystem and policies which limit fishing to safe levels, there will be no fishing industry. It makes sense too, from an economic perspective, for our management decisions to aim to achieve maximum yields, where that is a reasonable option. What fisherman would be against high sustainable yields?

Meeting with UK Chief Brexit Negotiator

A small delegation from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations met recently (remotely) with Chief Negotiator, David Frost. The meeting took place ahead of five weeks of intensive negotiations designed to put momentum back into efforts to reach a deal on the future UK/EU relationship.

Post Brexit Landing Obligation

One of the benefits of leaving the Common Fisheries Policy will be the potential to rethink and redesign the landing obligation. Initially the industry will continue to work under EU retained law, but after 1st January there will be scope to redesign and implement new arrangements tailored to the conditions in UK fisheries. Both Defra and the NFFO have begun work to identify deficiencies in the EU landing obligation and how these could be addressed to inform a more effective and workable UK discard policy. The contents of this paper were discussed at a recent Defra/MMO/NFFO landing obligation forum.

UK-EU Negotiations: Fisheries

After last week’s round of negotiations, Michel Barnier singled out fisheries as one of the areas where insufficient progress is being made towards the point at the end of June when a decision is to be made (according to the Withdrawal Agreement) on whether to proceed with negotiations. Having ceased to be an EU member State at the end of January, the UK has repeatedly indicated its intention to leave the transitional period and not to ask for an extension.

Pelagics Prepare for UK Adjustment

The UK’s new status as an independent coastal state was widely recognised at a recent seminar held at the North Atlantic Seafood Conference in Bergen. An audience of invited guests heard from a panel which included representatives from the Norwegian, Faeroese and Danish pelagic organisations along with the NFFO. The seminar was organised by Norge Sildesalgslag.

A New Equilibrium

The tectonic plates of European and internal UK politics are shifting. One consequence of this is that fishing has been thrust into a political prominence not seen since the cod wars with Iceland in the 1970s. Fishing rights have become one of the most emblematic issues associated with the UK’s departure from the EU. The NFFO examines where this shift will take the UK fishing industry.

EU Negotiating Mandate and NFFO Comment

The EU’s negotiating mandate for the future relationship with the UK has been published. It is reproduced below, along with an NFFO commentary. The negotiations will begin in early March.

What would a good deal on fishing look like?

The Independent has published an article on what the NFFO would consider a good outcome from the forthcoming negotiations on a future fisheries agreement outside the Common Fisheries Policy.

Fishing: A Red Line Issue

It may be a coincidence of timing but the day after the NFFO/SFF piled on the pressure with a major event in the Westminster Parliament, the Government has announced that getting a better deal for UK fishermen will be one of its five key negotiating principles with the EU.

Incredible Level of Support Across Parliament

An “incredible level of support” for the fishing industry, was expressed at an event in Westminster organised jointly by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. The event, which was held within the Palace of Westminster attracted support from over 100 parliamentarians, MPs and lords, across the political spectrum. It took place two days before the UK leaves the EU, on the day which the Fisheries Bill received its first reading, and ahead of critical negotiations on future fisheries arrangements between the UK and EU. These are expected to begin in February or March.

The Year Ahead – A UK/EU Fisheries Agreement

In an industry that has experienced many momentous years and critical turning points, 2020 stands to be one of the most pivotal in our history.

NFFO Launches 2019 Manifesto: A Fair Deal for the UK Fishing Industry

The NFFO has today, launched its fishing manifesto which consists of three key themes; independence, fairness, and sustainability and collaboration.

Withdrawal Agreement and Beyond

Leaving aside the possibility of a hiccup in these politically turbulent times, it is now possible that the UK will leave the EU on 31st October, or shortly after, within the context of the UK/EU withdrawal agreement settled in Brussels last week.

Get ready for Brexit

HM Government has published a checklist for fishing vessels in the event that the UK leaves the EU on 31st October 2019.

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