Brexit: fisheries Contents

Chapter 5: A new co-operative relationship

Co-operation with the EU and other neighbouring states

88.In withdrawing from the CFP, the UK will withdraw from the structures that facilitate co-operation on fisheries with the EU and other international parties. Though the UK could choose not to replace these structures, the Institute for Environmental Policy (IEEP) cautioned: “Were the UK to set its own catch limits in parallel to the EU or other states fishing the same stocks, the total fishing pressure on individual stocks would be likely to increase.”154

89.This, the Angling Trust told us, is because: “The UK shares, and always will share, access to fish stocks with other EU and non-EU states.” This is “a function of the UK’s geographical position in Europe and the fact that migratory fish stocks do not respect national borders”.155 Consequently, Professor Churchill argued, if these shared stocks “are to be properly managed … there will have to be some form of co-operative management regime”.156

90.Barrie Deas agreed: “The reality is that most of our stocks are shared, so some level of shared management is not only desirable but inevitable.”157 This, Dr Bryce Stewart explained, is because “the [shared] fish are moving around between the different areas and what we do affects other countries and, likewise, what they do affects our fisheries”.158 Professor Barnes developed a similar point:

“It is incredibly difficult to view the regulation of fisheries in isolation from what other states do … so, when it comes to implementing measures to do with allocating fish quotas or to determine where and when fish are caught … there has to be some degree of co-operation and there have to be concessions to other states’ interests within these waters.”159

91.The Minister also agreed that, for stocks that migrate and are shared, “co-operating with other European countries, whether they are in or out of the European Union will continue to be very important”.160

The purpose of a framework

92.There was, though, disagreement about what a future relationship with the EU should look like. While the NEF recommended that the UK should pursue continued membership of the CFP, Fishing for Leave were in favour of a “cordial relationship with the EU co-operating on fisheries only when necessary and of mutual benefit”.161

93.Witnesses highlighted key functions that would be relevant in a new framework agreement with the EU: reaching agreement on TACs; a mechanism for sharing TACs; and exchanging access to fishing in the respective EEZs of both parties.162 Barrie Deas suggested long-term management plans should also feature in a regional or bilateral relationship,163 a point echoed by the Marine Conservation Society,164 though Mr Deas argued that decisions about technical measures should be reserved for the UK.165

94.The Norwegian and Icelandic witnesses told us that their fisheries agreements with neighbours typically included some aspect of setting and sharing TACs, control and enforcement, and some long-term harmonisation of management efforts.166 Mr Landmark also said that reciprocal access arrangements were crucial to EU-Norway relations.167

95.We recognise that the EU is not the only international partner of interest to the UK for fisheries management. Agreements will be required with Nordic states such as Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, bilaterally or, for important straddling stocks like mackerel, multilaterally through coastal state negotiations and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).168 We will address these relationship models in chapter 10.

96.The geographical proximity of the United Kingdom to the European Union and Nordic states such as Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the mobility of many fish stocks, the international law obligation to co-operate with adjacent states to manage such stocks, and the risk of over-exploitation, all necessitate an effective and immediate co-operative relationship in fisheries management with the EU and other neighbouring states.

154 Written evidence from the IEEP (FBR0003)

155 Written evidence from the Angling Trust (FBR0013)

161 Written evidence from the NEF (FBR0007) and Fishing for Leave (FBR0002)

162 Written evidence from the IEEP (FBR0003), WWF (FBR0010), the NEF (FBR0007), Dr Stewart (FBR0015) and the Angling Trust (FBR0013); Q 3 (Prof Robin Churchill)

164 Written evidence from the Marine Conservation Society (FBR0006)

166 Q 25 (Sigurgeir Thorgeirsson, Vidar Landmark)

167 Q 25 (Vidar Landmark)

168 Written evidence from the NEF (FBR0007), the IEEP (FBR0003), the Angling Trust (FBR0013) and John Farnell (FBR0005)

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