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Brexit: fisheries report published

17 December 2016

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee publishes its report highlighting some of the opportunities and challenges related to managing shared fish stocks following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.


In withdrawing from the European Union the United Kingdom will withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which has hitherto been the source of fisheries management policy in the UK and the EU. But fish know nothing of political borders and the majority of commercial fish stocks are shared between the UK and the EU or other European coastal states to some degree. Species of these fish may spend different stages of their life cycles in different nations' Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and their spawning grounds may be in a different region from that in which they are caught when mature. These stocks are vulnerable to exploitation.

Key findings

The Committee concluded that in leaving the Common Fisheries Policy the UK will become an independent coastal state under international law. This provides the UK with an opportunity to review current fisheries management practices and replace them where appropriate, bearing in mind the obligation to manage fish sustainably, and taking account of the needs of coastal communities and the industry. The Committee concluded the UK will be able to control the access that foreign vessels have to fishing in UK waters and to renegotiate the UK's share of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for fish stocks that are shared with other countries, including the EU. But the Committee cautioned that commercial fish stocks that are shared with other states risk over-exploitation on either side of political borders and concluded that the Government must pursue new, co-operative relations with the EU and other European neighbors to manage these shared fish. The Committee also concluded that the Government may come under pressure to balance new quota shares and access arrangements against access to the Single Market. Key areas considered include:

  • The opportunity to review fisheries management practices in the UK.
  • The extent to which the UK could control foreign vessels' fishing access to its waters after Brexit.
  • The UK's obligation as a coastal state to manage shared fish sustainably in co-operation with adjacent states.
  • The importance of agreeing, and sharing, Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for shared fish stocks on the basis of scientific advice.
  • The significance of trade in fish and seafood to the wider seafood industry.
  • The importance of fisheries to coastal communities and the necessity of involving the voice of the fishing industry in the wider Brexit negotiations.

Further information

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