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What will the consequences be of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on fishing affairs?

The United Kingdom (UK) leaves the Common Fisheries policy on 1 January 2021 - the joint legal framework of the whole European Union (EU) that provides equal access to EU waters for Member States, as well as a stable agreement for the distribution of quotas and the sustainable management of resources.

By leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, the UK becomes an independent coastal State. This changes the scenario in fisheries' organisation in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and in the North Sea.

The EU and the UK will be responsible, under international law, for the joint management of approximately 100 species of fish.

The UK waters (that is, the territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and the adjacent Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 nautical miles) will cease to form part of the EU waters. In the absence of provisions to the contrary, access to other waters would no longer be guaranteed.

What does the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK cover on fishing matters?

The agreement establishes a new framework for the joint and sustainable management of shared species of fish in EU and UK waters, fully respecting the rights and obligations of each party and independent coastal State, based on the best scientific advice available.
New provisions are established on the reciprocal access to waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone and in the nautical zone of 6-12 miles, as well as on new stable arrangements to share quotas.

Will the EU fishing fleets continue to have the same degree of access to UK waters?
They will until 2026, although as it will become an independent coastal State this may also be subject to certain technical conditions.

Once the 5.5-year adjustment period has ended (from 01/01/2021- 30/06/2026), during which the current rules on reciprocal access will be maintained, the agreement provides for annual consultations to establish the level and conditions of reciprocal access to Exclusive Economic Zones and the territorial waters of each party.

Will access to the same levels of quotas continue?

Gradual changes will take place to the distribution of the quotas of total allowable catches (TAC) for some of the shared species until 2026 between the EU and the UK, which also includes species managed on a trilateral basis (for example, with Norway) and in multilateral environments.

These changes will take into account the need to guarantee the sustainable management of marine resources and to preserve the activities and livelihoods of fishing communities that depend on these waters and resources.

The distribution of the quotas agreed is provided for in the annexes to the agreement, which provides long-term transparency, and are due to remain in force until beyond 2026.

Why do the parties need annual consultations?

The EU and the UK will hold annual consultations to jointly determine the total allowable catches (TAC) of each species, that is, the maximum amounts of a species of a particular description that can be caught in a certain period. This is an international obligation deriving from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other treaties on cooperation in managing shared species of fish.

This will be done taking into account scientific advice on conservation needs, as well as on relevant socio-economic factors. These TAC will assign each party to the agreement with the distribution rates established in the agreement. However, if the parties do not reach an agreement on a TAC, a provisional TAC will be defined corresponding to the level recommended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) until such time as an agreement is reached.

Access to the waters of the others will be granted to harness the fishing possibilities available. After the adjustment period, in which current full access will be maintained, the levels and conditions for reciprocal access to water will be decided in annual consultations.

Administrative procedures for port access, disembarkation and imports

Non official translation

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