This blog is intended to address fisheries from the UK’s point of view in the light of the outcome of the referendum on Brexit. For the time being, and just for the sake of simplicity, it will consider the UK as a single entity rather than considering the position of the devolved administrations. Posts on this blog will not be regular and may be infrequent.
Post No.1 (first posted on 1 July 2016; most recently amended on 7 July 2016):
At the outset, it should be emphasised that the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will continue to apply to the UK until the point at which the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. The procedure governing cessation of membership of the EU is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Not surprisingly, the text of Article 50, and its application to and by the UK, is currently the subject of detailed discussion by many commentators.
The following assumes that the UK government, further to the outcome of the referendum, starts taking steps towards the cessation of the UK’s membership of the EU. In the context of those initial steps, it seems likely that the following fisheries issues, amongst others, will start to receive attention from both the UK government and stakeholders alike:
(a) the way in which the UK will make use of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for the provision of scientific advice (ICES being an essential provider of scientific advice about fish stocks and related matters in, in particular, the northern Atlantic Ocean);
(b) the way in which the UK and the EU (and, where relevant, other coastal States) will agree, and then allocate between themselves, the total allowable catch (TAC), or total allowable effort, for any given shared fish stock;
(c) the form and content of a fisheries management policy for the UK, to cover the UK’s continental shelf, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), territorial sea and marine internal waters, regarding (i) fisheries conservation and (ii) protection of the environment from the effects of fishing activities;
(d) a tariff system for trade in fisheries products between the UK and the EU (a subject that is linked to considerations about access by the UK to the internal market) and between the UK and relevant non-EU Member States;
(e) the form and content of a fisheries access agreement, presumably reciprocal, between the UK and the EU (assuming that negotiation of such an agreement is regarded as, amongst other things, politically and economically desirable);
(f) the form and content of fisheries access agreements, whether reciprocal or otherwise, between the UK and relevant non-EU Member States (assuming that negotiation of such agreements is regarded as, amongst other things, politically and economically desirable);
(g) the existing historic access arrangements whereby vessels flagged to certain EU Member States have fisheries access to certain coastal waters around the UK, and vice versa, and the question of whether or not these arrangements will be affected at the point at which the UK ceases to be a member of the EU;
(h) the UK’s involvement in relevant international forums where the UK has so far been represented by the EU either fully (e.g. the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission) or partly (e.g. the negotiations at the United Nations for a new implementing agreement under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea);
(i) the form and content of a system for the UK, as a market State and otherwise, to counter international trade in so-called ‘IUU’ (i.e. illegal, unreported and unregulated) fisheries products;
(j) the criteria for ownership by companies in EU Member States of fishing vessels registered in the UK (a subject that, because of its connection to freedom of establishment, is linked to considerations about access by the UK to the internal market), and vice versa.