The European Parliament and the Future of Fisheries


The UK media reported this week on a leaked document from the EU Parliament, explaining why nothing much will change in European fisheries after the UK leaves the EU.

Amongst other things, the EP asserted
that Brexit would mean:

  • “No increase to the UK’s share of fishing
    opportunities for jointly fished stocks (maintaining the existing quota
    distribution in UK and EU waters)
  • In order for the UK and EU to keep to
    commitments on sustainable fishing, contained within the United Nations stocks
    agreement, it is difficult to see any alternative to the continued application
    of the common fisheries policy.
  • Reciprocal access for the EU and UK fleets to
    the fishing grounds in the UK and the EU waters.”

Leaving aside the low probability that these will be the actual
outcomes of the forthcoming UK/EU exit negotiations, the article signals that we
can expect a great deal of this type of posturing ahead of the talks.

The European Parliament has a vested interest in seeing the
future through rose tinted spectacles. It stands to lose a great deal of its
influence (as well as its British members) when the UK leaves the EU. The
Parliament will no longer have a say on quota levels, quota shares and access arrangements
where stocks are shared, because these decisions will be the subject of
bilateral or trilateral international negotiations. In other words those
decisions will no longer be made in Brussels.

There is no reason why the UK will want to abandon the
progress that has been made in achieving sustainable high-yield fisheries
(often despite poorly designed European policies) Similarly, we are assured that renegotiated
quota shares and access arrangements are be a high priorities for the UK in the
negotiations, once Article 50 is triggered.

So, it’s probably best to understand the report, not so much
as an objective and thorough analysis of the factors in play as a wish list….