Brussels, 3 march 2022
Need stable and predictable fishing conditions in UK waters, less protectionism
Brexit has destabilised relations between North Atlantic coastal states
Controversial interpretations of licensing conditions and unilateral decisions have negatively affected EU fish stocks
Fisheries MEPs urge the Commission to safeguard the EU fleet’s long-established fishing rights in the North-Eastern Atlantic, after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement (TCA) has now been in place for a year, and MEPs on the Fisheries Committee have taken a first look at the hurdles that have impeded its implementation and emerging issues in the fisheries field. They deplore the fact that the TCA gradually reduces the share of the European fleet’s fishing opportunities in UK waters by 25% over a five-and-a-half-year period.
Less protectionism, more good neighbourliness
The draft resolution on the future of fisheries in the English Channel, the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean following Brexit was adopted unanimously (27 votes in favour) by the Fisheries Committee on Thursday. MEPs are concerned about the UK’s protectionist measures, which limit fishing licences for EU vessels in the Crown Dependencies, and urge the UK to refrain from controversial actions. Fisheries MEPs want the Commission to consider all options to ensure that the rights of EU vessels are respected, including limiting the UK’s access to EU ports or restricting the import of fisheries products.
The EU-UK relationship must be anchored in a spirit of good faith and neighbourliness that would lead to stable and predictable conditions for fishers now and after the transition period ending in June 2026.
Brexit impact on EU’s fleet operating in other parts of the world
The draft resolution says that Brexit has destabilised relations between North Atlantic coastal states, resulting in Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands taking unilateral decisions that negatively affect fish stocks and the EU’s fishing fleet, such as, the EU’s loss of Svalbard’s cod quota.
MEPs on the Fisheries Committee call on the Commission to work on appropriate solutions with other coastal states on better control and fisheries management measures in line with the Common Fisheries Policy and the Green Deal.
Fisheries MEPs stress that the TCA Specialised Committee on Fisheries must be transparent, urging that Parliament’s Fisheries Committee representatives be invited as observers when the Specialised Committee meets.
EP rapporteur Manuel Pizarro (S&D, PT) said: “The European Union and the UK need to continue to work together to deliver sound international ocean governance by promoting the sustainable use and exploitation of ocean resources. Marine areas must be protected and restored on the basis of the best and most up-to-date scientific knowledge. We must work together in a spirit of good neighbourliness and peaceful cooperation.
Unfortunately, the UK has already shown that it intends to implement some protectionist measures like the so-called “economic link”, that go beyond the spirit of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It is of utmost importance that the European Commission pay particular attention to this type of action and respond accordingly.”
The draft resolution now needs to be voted on by the full house of the Parliament, possibly during the April session.