Publication of the UK Fisheries Bill

25th October 2018 in Brexit, Domestic Fisheries Policy, Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

As the UK leaves the EU and therefore the Common Fisheries Policy, this Bill is an important staging-post on the way to the UK’s new status as an independent coastal state. It will be important to manage our fisheries on a sustainable basis in this new future and this Bill provides the powers to control who fishes in UK waters and also to set safe limits for overall fishing levels. It provides for legal continuity as we transition away from the Common Fisheries Policy but also the means through which we can build a new 'fit-for purpose' UK fisheries policy.

Publication of the UK Fisheries Bill

Fishermen in the UK have waited for 40 years to address the imbalances within the CFP. These have worked systematically to the UK’s disadvantage and this Bill is an important part of that rebalancing process.

Under the UN law of the sea, we will be able to apply our own fisheries policies in our waters and negotiate fisheries agreements as an independent party, in the way that countries like Norway already do.

The Bill will provide the basis for an adaptive and responsive fisheries policy, capable of dealing with a dynamic industry and resource and evolving scientific advice. This contrasts starkly with the cumbersome CFP decision-making process which has proved so difficult to work with.

Parts of the Bill introduce new measures and will require scrutiny and discussion. Getting the balance right between an overall UK framework for fisheries and the authority delegated to the devolved administrations will be important and there is much still to be discussed in this area.

Likewise, the Bill’s provisions for charging fishermen require further explanation.

Overall, however, we consider that this Bill is an important and welcome gateway to a better future for the UK fishing industry.

Bill content

  • Automatic access rights of EU vessels revoked
  • Foreign boats required to be licensed to fish in UK waters and will follow the UK’s rules
  • New powers for the UK to set catch limits, revoking the EU’s powers to set UK quotas
  • Equal access for UK fishing boats across UK waters
  • Sustainability objectives committed to on the face of the Fisheries Bill
  • UK government and DAs will agree a Joint Fisheries Statement setting out how those objectives will be met
  • UK government will prepare and publish a Fisheries Statement setting out how a further set of objectives will be met in England
  • New powers for the UK and Devolved Administrations to protect the marine environment
  • Reforms in England
  • New powers to update technical regulations, respond to science and meet our international obligations
  • Updated grant making powers
  • New scheme to help fishermen comply with the discard ban