Withdrawal Agreement Fisheries

Much of the fishing content in the withdrawal agreement follows by default the amended legal status of the United Kingdom. The parties agree to cooperate and the content of a future AGREEMENT between the EU and the UK on access and quotas will be concluded in due course for it to enter into force after a transitional period. In its initial negotiating mandate, the EU made it clear that it would seek to make an agreement on a future eu-UK trade agreement conditional on maintaining access to fish in UK waters and the status quo on quotas. The explicit reference to future fisheries negotiations between the UK and the EU, as part of the overall economic partnership, indicates that the EU will strive to maintain its negotiating lever, albeit with a very weakened hand. After Brexit, the UK will no longer be part of the EU`s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It will become an independent coastal state and will be fully responsible for fisheries management in the UK`s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 200 miles (nm) from the coast The EU negotiated withdrawal agreement provided that the UK would be bound by the common fisheries policy until the end of a transitional period. The agreement on the “backstop” rules for Northern Ireland states that the free movement of fishing and aquaculture products would not be included in any UK-wide backstop customs regime “unless an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom on access to fishing waters and opportunities is applicable.” The political declaration stipulates that any fisheries agreement should be in force for the first year following the transition period and sets a deadline for ratification of a fisheries agreement on 1 July 2020. In the new withdrawal agreement and the political declaration agreed in October 2019, there have been no major changes to fisheries, as the complex and controversial issues related to parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement still depend heavily on the upcoming negotiations. The legal status of the United Kingdom has changed and its influence in fisheries negotiations has changed considerably, but if this new status is not used to remedy the gross distortions of quotas, fishermen will question what they have done. English anglers in the English Channel, who accounted for 9% of the cod quota (84% compared to France), have a legitimate confidence to remedy it, and quickly. This is just the most extreme of many examples where the UK has been systematically penalised by the CFP for 40 years. A Brexit without a deal would have a direct impact on access to fishing grounds for both EU-flagged vessels and the UK.

There would also be an impact on trade in fisheries products which, when exported to the EU, are subject to a number of tariffs and could be affected by tariff delays. In addition, the United Kingdom would be responsible for patrolling and enforcing the exclusion of foreign vessels within the UK EEZ and negotiating annual fisheries agreements with neighbouring countries.