The European Parliament and the Future of Fisheries

17th February 2017 in Brexit, Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

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.

The European Parliament and the Future of Fisheries

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….