In a commentary on the current state of negotiations between the European Union and the UK, a spokesman for the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, representing much of the English fishing industry, described the possibility of the UK and EU setting their own autonomous quotas for 2021 as a ‘departure that no sensible party wants.’
‘In view of these huge uncertainties, the UK is already making preparations for stand-alone arrangements for 2021 – in which access for EU fleets to fish in UK waters would be one element within an overall annual agreement. It is worth recalling that in the current EU/Norway annual agreements, without an annual fisheries agreement there is no access to fish in each other waters from 1st January.’
The NFFO has reiterated its central objectives as quota shares which reflect the resources located in UK waters, access arrangements to be negotiated as part of annual fisheries negotiations, regulatory autonomy to allow the UK to develop its own distinctive fisheries policy outside the Common Fisheries Policy, an exclusive 12-mile zone and as frictionless trade as can be obtained without compromising UK sovereignty and rights as an independent coastal state.
‘[The] two opposing factors make the likelihood of no deal, at present, the most likely outcome. In the event of no-deal on a fisheries framework agreement, the EU would have to make a judgement whether the self-harm it would inflict on itself as well as the UK, by withholding a trade deal, would be the right course of action, notwithstanding the rhetoric generated throughout the negotiations. If it made good on its threats, the UK would trade with the EU on WTO terms from 1st January,’ the NFFO’s spokesman commented.
‘In the meantime, the talks with Brussels continue, with sessions planned for the weeks commencing 17th August, 7th September, and 28th September. That is approaching the last possible deadline for an agreement to take effect on 1st January 2021 as time is required to go through the Treaty ratification processes.’