House of Commons Library

Brexit: What next for UK fisheries?

Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The implications of Brexit for fisheries are highly uncertain and will depend on future negotiations with the EU and future UK Government policy. The Government announced its intention to introduce a new Fisheries Bill in the 2017 Queen's Speech.

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In 2015, fishing contributed £604 million to UK GDP and employed around 12,000 fishers and, as of 2016, the fish processing industry supported around 18,000 jobs across 376 fish processing sites.  

The implications of Brexit for fisheries are highly uncertain. The implications will depend on future negotiations with the EU and future UK Government policy. The Government announced its intention to introduce a Fisheries Bill in the 2017 Queen’s Speech, which will: “Enable the UK to control access to its waters and set UK fishing quotas once it has left the EU.”

Possible implications, based on the views of different stakeholders and evidence from existing non-EU European countries, may include:

  • The UK obtaining exclusive national fishing rights up to 200 miles from the coast. However, the UK may trade-off some of these rights in order to obtain access to the EU’s sea area or access to the EU market for fisheries products;
  • Impacts on the UK’s ability to negotiate favourable fish quotas for UK fishers with the EU. It is not possible to say whether the UK will be more or less able to obtain satisfactory quotas for fishers;
  • The need for a new mechanism to enable the UK to negotiate and agree annual fishing quotas with the EU and other countries;
  • The introduction of a UK fisheries management and enforcement system. This in many respects may mirror the existing arrangements for managing fisheries, albeit with additional resources required;
  • Restrictions on EU market access for fishery products (depending on the outcome of negotiations) and less influence in discussions on determining EU market rules for fish;
  • Less certainty around public funding of support for fishing communities or environmental sustainability; and
  • Issues related to possible changes to the protection of the marine environment.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7669

Author: David Hirst

Topics: Environmental protection, EU grants and loans, EU law and treaties, Fisheries

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