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The Fisheries Bill 2017-19

Published Monday, December 3, 2018

Second Reading of the Fisheries Bill 2017-19 will took place in the House of Commons on 21 November 2018. The Bill will allow the UK to manage fisheries within its territorial waters once it has left the Commons Fisheries Policy.

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Fisheries management in the UK (including quota allocation) is devolved, with different approaches taken by the four administrations. A Concordat in 2012 established common practice for vessel licensing, effort management and quota distribution.

Following Brexit, the UK will no longer be part of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It will become an independent coastal state and be fully responsible for managing fisheries in the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 miles. This will include setting total allowable catches (TACs) and determining who has access to fisheries.

Fisheries policy after Brexit

The 25 Year Environment Plan, published in January 2018, set out details of the Government’s aims for a sustainable fisheries policy after Brexit, based on a natural capital approach, which would allow for sustainable fisheries, whilst protecting and enhancing the marine environment. This was followed by the publication of a Fisheries White Paper, in July 2018, which recognised that “healthy fish stocks are the first step to vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries, and prioritises a healthy marine environment” and committed to work under the principle of maximum sustainable yield. The White Paper included details of the proposed Fisheries Bill, which would create powers for “retained EU fisheries law to be amended expeditiously by secondary legislation”; and include proposals for powers to deliver agreements reached with the EU and other coastal states on access to waters and fishing opportunities.

The Fisheries Bill

The Fisheries Bill, published on 25 October 2018, is a framework bill that will provide the UK Government with powers to set annual total allowable catches for UK waters, and provide the UK Government and devolved administrations with powers to the amend the fisheries regulations that will be transposed into UK law from EU legislation. In addition to this, a number of Articles in the EU CFP Regulations are revoked or amended.

The Bill reflects the objectives set out Article 2 of the EU Regulations and provides for the how these will be reflected in policy across the UK, although it does not include a duty to meet these objectives. It also includes powers for the UK Government to set fishing opportunities, and for England only, powers to create a scheme for sale of quota and charging for discards. The Bill also extends the powers of national authorities with regard to marine conservation to the whole of the UK EEZ.

All clauses of the Bill, except Clause 37, which deals with devolved powers, apply to all parts of the UK.The Bill inlcudes a number of Henry VIII powers.

Second Reading of the Bill took place in the House of Commons on 21 November 2018.

There are 4,390 businesses in the fishing sector in the UK, the majority (87%) of which were very small with fewer than 5 employees. In 2017, employment in the fishing sector in the UK was 25,200, the majority of which (64%) worked in fish processing. Scotland dominates the fishing sector in Great Britain, with 55% of the sector’s employment (13,750 people) working in Scotland in 2017. The economic contribution of the fishing sector was £1.5 billion, 45% of which came from fish processing. The economic output of the fishing sector was 0.1% of total UK output (in terms of Gross Value Added, GVA, which is a similar measure to GDP).

Just under 80% of the UK fleet are 10m and under vessels (u-10m). However, both the number of vessels and the size varies significantly across the UK. England has the largest number of u-10m fleet, 2,512, and Scotland the largest number over 10m vessels, 576. The u-10m vessels accounted for 78% of the UK fleet but landed only landed 6% of catch by weight in 2017.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8442

Authors: Elena Ares; Chris Rhodes; Roderick McInnes; Matthew Ward

Topics: EU law and treaties, Fisheries, Food, Marine environment

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