UK to withdraw from 50-year international fisheries arrangement
A convention that allows foreign countries access to fish waters surrounding the United Kingdom will be terminated within two years, the U.K. government has declared.
As part of the process to prepare the country for leaving the EU, the government will officially begin withdrawal from the London Fisheries Convention this week, confirmed Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The convention, signed in 1964 before the United Kingdom joined the EU, allows vessels from five European countries – France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands – to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of the U.K. coastline. It sits alongside the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which allows all European vessels access between 12 and 200 nautical miles of the country and sets quotas for how much fish each nation can catch.
Those members signed up to the convention will be notified this week, triggering a two-year withdrawal period.
“Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy. It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters,” said Gove.
“This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the U.K.”
As announced in the recent Queen’s Speech, the government will introduce a new Fisheries Bill to control access to U.K. waters and set fishing quotas. Starting this summer, there will be a period of engagement on the bill with the devolved administrations, fishermen, trade organizations, fish processors and the public to deliver a deal that works for country.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), welcomed the announcement that the London Fisheries Convention would be brought to a close, saying it was “an important part of establishing the U.K. as an independent coastal state with sovereignty over its own exclusive economic zone.”
The fisheries sector contributes GBP 1.3 billion (USD 1.7 billion, EUR 1.5 billion) to the U.K. economy, employing 34,600 people. There were over 6,000 UK fishing vessels in 2015, which landed 708,000 metric tons (MT) of fish, worth GBP 775 million (USD 1 billion, EUR 883.4 million).
An estimated 10,000 MT of fish was caught by fishing vessels from the London Fisheries Convention countries in 2015 within 12 nautical miles of the British coast – worth an estimated GBP 17 million (USD 22 million, EUR 19.4 million).