The UK authorities have issued a warning to UK fishermen with static gear deployed outside UK waters that they need to move it before the end of October.
According to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), as the UK becomes an independent coastal state following its departure from the European Union, there is no longer an automatic right to fish in the waters of EU or other states and access to EU waters is a matter for future negotiation.
An agreement on fishing has been agreed with Norway to the end of 2019.
The MMO warns that leaving gear in EU waters or hauling it will be a breach of new licences that will be issued to vessel owners in the run-up to 31st October. The new licences will limit UK fishermen to working UK waters or those of countries where a post-Brexit fisheries agreement is in place, such as Norway.
‘If we leave the EU without a deal then automatic fishing rights in EU waters will end at 11pm on 31st October. So we are advising fishermen who deploy static gear to ensure they’ve hauled it in advance of Brexit,’ said MMO Operations Director Phil Haslam, commenting that the MMO is encouraging fishermen to put their safety first by planning now if they will require multiple trips to haul their gear in advance of Brexit.
‘We want to ensure they do it safely by making as many trips as necessary rather than risk their safety by attempting to recover too much gear in a single trip and hazarding the boat’s stability. That means some fishermen will need to plan and act now if they’ve deployed a lot of gear,’ he said.
The right to transit through EU waters and those of other states will continue to apply after Brexit but all fishing gear must be lashed and stowed to comply with regulations.