1.The referendum campaign raised the profile of fisheries, which was widely seen as a policy area where there was much to gain and little to lose from leaving the EU, restricting EU vessels from fishing in UK waters and leaving the regulatory regime of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) behind. It is not, however, clear that Brexit will be plain sailing for fisheries.
2.Drawing on oral evidence from four panels of witnesses and a limited number of written submissions from academics, think tanks, industry representatives, campaign groups and Government, we seek to highlight key opportunities and risks that will arise from disentangling UK fisheries from the EU, and the options available to the Government in the Brexit negotiations. In doing so, our focus is on fish that are caught, not farmed.
3.In keeping with the remit of our Committee, we focus on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union. We acknowledge that fisheries management and international fisheries relations are immensely complex policy areas that cannot be addressed in full in this report.
4.Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the European Union Committee and its six sub-committees launched a coordinated series of short inquiries, addressing the most important cross-cutting issues that will arise in the course of negotiations on Brexit. The pace of events means that these inquiries will necessarily be short, with only two or three public meetings in each case, and limited amounts of written evidence. But within these constraints, we are seeking to outline the major opportunities and risks that Brexit presents to the United Kingdom.
5.Our inquiries run in parallel with the work currently being undertaken across Government, where departments are engaging with stakeholders, with a view to drawing up negotiating guidelines. But while much of the Government’s work is being conducted in private, our aim is to stimulate informed debate, in the House and beyond, on the many areas of vital national interest that will be covered in the negotiations. As far as possible we aim to complete this work before March 2017.
6.We are grateful to the witnesses who gave oral evidence and to those who responded to our targeted request for written contributions. All views expressed in this report are of course our own.
7.We make this report to the House for debate.