Environment Secretary launches Fisheries Bill to control UK waters

Posted: 25 October 2018 | | No comments yet

A Fisheries Bill introduced in Parliament today (25 Oct) means the UK will operate as an independent coastal state, controlling who fishes in its waters.


The Environment Secretary has launched a Bill creating the power that the UK needs to operate as an independent coastal state after leaving the EU.

The Bill is being introduced into Parliament today (25 October 2018), and for the first time since 1973, the UK will be able to control who may fish in our waters and on what terms. It will also give the UK the power to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and with other coastal states and manage fisheries more effectively and sustainably in future.

The legislation delivers on the UK government’s commitment to sustainable fishing and marine conservation as set out in the 25-year Environment Plan by:

  • Controlling access – automatic EU rights to fish in UK water will end. In the future, the UK will negotiate and decide on the terms of foreign vessels fishing in UK waters
  • Setting fishing opportunities – by proposing powers to ensure that the UK can set its own fishing quota and days at sea, which it will negotiate as an independent coastal State. As now, the UK government will consult the Devolved Administrations.
  • Protecting the marine environment – by ensuring fisheries management decisions are taken strategically for the benefit of the whole marine environment. The Bill extends powers to the Marine Management Organisation and the Devolved Administrations to protect our seas.

The government does not currently know the outcome of the UK’s negotiations with the EU on a future economic partnership, but the UK has been clear that market access for fisheries products is separate to the question of fishing opportunities and access to waters. The Bill will give us the powers to implement the result of those negotiations.

The new legislation also proposes ways in which the UK government and the Devolved Administrations will work together to adopt common approaches to fisheries management in certain areas – including preserving UK vessels’ right to fish across the four zones of UK waters and creating a consistent approach to managing access of foreign vessels.

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary said: “This new Fisheries Bill will allow us to create a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for all of the UK. It will regenerate coastal communities, take back control of our waters and, through better conservation measures, allow our precious marine environment to thrive.

“The Common Fisheries Policy has damaged the UK’s fishing industry and our precious fish stocks. The Bill will deliver a sustainable fishing industry, with healthy seas and a fair deal for UK fishermen.”

The Bill also provides powers to reform fisheries rules. To ensure legal continuity, the EU (Withdrawal) Act transferred Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rules into UK law. This Bill allows government to amend fisheries legislation to respond to scientific advice and innovation quickly – something the CFP failed to do – and to meet our international obligations.