Agreement in principle reached on EU, UK fishing opportunities

Published on
June 4, 2021

The European Union and United Kingdom have concluded negotiations on an agreement in principle that sets out catch limits for jointly managed fish stocks through the end of 2021.

Arrangements were finalized in a telephone call on 2 June between the E.U. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius and U.K. Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs George Eustice.

The agreement closes the first-ever annual consultations on fishing opportunities between the E.U. and the United Kingdom under the terms of the E.U.-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the European Commission confirmed. These negotiations began in January.

It establishes total allowable catches (TAC) for 75 shared fish stocks for 2021, as well as for some deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022. Additionally, it provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species.

The signing of the agreement, expected in the coming days, will also enable both parties to engage in quota exchanges.

Sinkevičius said the agreement “provides predictability and continuity” for fishing fleets with definitive TACs for the remainder of the year.

“This is good for fishermen and women, our coastal communities and our ports, as well as for the sustainable use of our marine resources,” he said. “This also proves that two partners on both sides of the [English] Channel can find agreements and move forward if they work together.”

According to the commission, the agreement is based on the best available scientific advice on the state of fish stocks, as provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

It takes into account important sustainability and management principles, such as maximum sustainable yield and the precautionary approach.

The commission will now propose incorporating the agreement into E.U. legislation.

Eustice said while reaching an agreement had been “challenging,” the aim throughout these fisheries negotiations was to safeguard the sustainability of fish stocks and to seek an agreement that both respects the U.K.’s new status and works for the U.K. fishing industry.

“As a responsible independent coastal state, we are committed to cooperating with our closest coastal state partners and we look forward to continuing discussions in the Specialized Committee on Fisheries,” he said. 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia and Chris McAndrew

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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