Queen’s Speech gives welcome shot in the arm for UK fisheries

Published on
June 22, 2017

A new fisheries bill will be created to allow the United Kingdom to take on the responsibility for the access and management of its waters following the country’s departure from the EU, Queen Elizabeth II announced in the much-awaited first Queen’s Speech following the country’s general election on 8 June.

Ahead of the announcement, there had been strong concerns that fisheries would not receive the prioritized attention in the 15 months of Brexit negotiations ahead – despite being labeled a “totemic industry” by the U.K. Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis – because it accounts for less than 1 percent of the country’s GDP. The widely held fear was that richer sectors could take precedence in the deal brokering that is now underway. 

The fisheries bill will feature alongside seven other new bills directly relating to Brexit, including a customs bill that will allow the United Kingdom to impose its own tariffs after Brexit, and a trade bill that will allow the country to operate its own trade policy. 

Announcing the proposed new laws to both Houses of Parliament, the Queen said: “My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union. My ministers are committed to working with Parliament, the devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union.

“A bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses. This will be complemented by legislation to ensure that the United Kingdom makes a success of Brexit, establishing new national policies on immigration, international sanctions, nuclear safeguards, agriculture, and fisheries.”

She said government would seek to maintain “a deep and special partnership” with European allies and to forge new trading relationships across the globe. New bills on trade and customs would help to implement an independent trade policy, and support would be given to help British businesses export to markets around the world.”

As highlighted by Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), at a special seminar in London, held on the eve of the Queen’s Speech, the U.K. fishing industry wants outcomes from the Brexit negotiations to include:

  • The United Kingdom to become an independent coastal state
  • A new deal on quota shares to reflect the resources that are in U.K. waters
  • An exclusive 12-mile zone to protect inshore fisheries 
  • Negotiated access to the U.K. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) outside the 12-mile zone where there are proportionate benefits
  • An opportunity to shape the U.K. fisheries regime to the contours of its fleets
  • As free a flow as possible in trade between the United Kingdom and the EU

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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