New plans set out for UK fishing post Brexit

Fleetwood fishermen in Morecambe Bay
Fleetwood fishermen in Morecambe Bay

Britain’s fishermen, including the last few operators based in Fleetwood, would stand to benefit from new Government proposals to “take back control” of its seas from 2020.

In a new white paper being published on fishing after Brexit, the Government set out its plans for the fishing sector in the future.

Although the UK will still adhere to the EU-wide Common Fisheries Policy during the transition period, ministers said that from 2020, the country will negotiate access to its waters as an independent coastal state.

The plans would see access to fishing grounds being negotiated on an annual basis in a similar away to other nations outside the EU, such as Norway.

The paper, entitled Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations, sets out ways for “fairer” allocation of fishing opportunities based on fish stock distribution and moves away from the 1970s methods.

It includes a commitment to publishing an annual statement on health of fish stocks based on the latest scientific evidence, aimed at restoring struggling stocks to healthy levels.

And it also pledges to end the wasteful practice of discarding fish, which fishermen have been forced to engage in as part of the current quota system.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “As an island nation our fishing industry is the lifeblood of coastal communities around the UK.

“I have been clear that when we leave the EU we will take back control of our waters, while ensuring we don’t see our fishermen unfairly denied access to other waters.

“The plans set out today demonstrate the bright future in store as we build UK fishing industry for future generations by putting the importance of a healthy marine environment at its heart.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities.

“We will be able to put in place our own systems, becoming a world leader in managing our resources while protecting the marine environment.”

The move was welcomed by Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, who said the plans were “clear and cogent, and aligned with international law”.