House of Commons Library

The UK Fishing Industry

Published Wednesday, December 6, 2017

This pack has been prepared ahead of the debate to be held in the Commons Chamber on Thursday 7 December 2017 on the UK fishing industry. The subject for this debate has been selected by the Backbench Business Committee, and the debate will be opened by Sheryll Murray MP.

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The Library Commons Briefing Paper Brexit: What next for UK fisheries? published in July 2017 provides an overview of how fisheries are currently managed within the UK, as part of the EU Commons Fisheries Policy.

There were 4,000 businesses in the fishing industry in 2016. These businesses employed 24,000 people and contributed £1.4 billion to the UK economy in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure similar to GDP).   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; and
  • Issues related to possible changes to the protection of the marine environment. [1]

Since July then there has been continued discussion on the future of UK fisheries post-Brexit, together with further detail from Ministers on what they are hoping to achieve within the Brexit negotiations, commentary on which are provided in this pack.

[1]     Commons Briefing Paper, Brexit: What next for UK Fisheries? 4 July 2017

Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-0256

Authors: Elena Ares; Chris Rhodes; Matthew Ward

Topic: Fisheries

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