The general election outcome in the UK practically ensures that Brexit taking place is beyond doubt, with the UK set to leave the European Union on 31st January next year.
Under the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, from that date the UK becomes an independent coastal state, although subject to a transition period and the CFP to the end of 2020.
According to a statement from the NFFO, the UK Government will also be in a position to reintroduce its Fisheries Bill to provide itself with powers to implement its programme on fisheries, including powers to control access over who is permitted to fish in UK waters, and to set its own quotas (accepting that for shared stocks, these will usually be set in co-operation with other coastal states.)
‘Early next year, talks will begin between the UK and the EU on a framework fisheries agreement that will determine the shape of cooperation between the UK and EU, after the end of the transition period,’ an NFFO spokesman said.
‘A framework agreement could consist of very high-level statements, referencing cooperation on managing shared stocks, broad commitments to sustainable fishing, and compliance with the UN Law of the Sea. It is expected that a framework agreement could be concluded by the end of July. The current framework agreement between EU and Norway, is an obvious template.’
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, from the end of the transition period UK and EU fleets will have no automatic right to fish in each other’s waters. Access becomes subject to negotiation, as will quota shares and quota exchanges.
‘The UK, in its White Paper, has made clear that some level of access could be granted to EU fleets to fish in UK waters, subject to the satisfactory negotiation of revised quota shares. The EU has made it equally clear that any free trade deal with the UK would be contingent on the status quo on access and quota shares,’ the NFFO states.
‘In both the EU and the UK, fishing rights are a matter of high visibility and high political profile. The stakes are therefore very high for all parties as we enter this next phase of negotiations with the EU.’
The UK fishing industry sees the UK’s departure from the EU as an opportunity to break free from a cumbersome and ineffective management system.
According to the NFFO, this is a chance to redress the asymmetrical access and quota arrangements which have worked to the UK’s disadvantage for 40 years, while it predicts that the EU will try to hang on to the current arrangements that work so well to its benefit.
‘Against this background, the NFFO will be working closely with UK Government to ensure that the commitments it has made on fisheries are delivered in full.’