NFFO Discusses Shape of Fisheries Policy Post-Brexit

11 August 2016, at 1:00am

UK - Since the UK's decision to leave the EU the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) has been actively involved in work on the post-Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) management regime.

The NFFO's Executive Committee met in July and agreed the broad shape of the country's future policy.

  • Brexit will mean that the UK will directly control the fisheries within its 200 mile exclusive economic zone (or out to the median line where appropriate.) This will offer opportunities to design a management regime that is much more closely tailored to the shape and operational patterns of the UK's fleets.

  • Brexit will provide an opportunity to address historic anomalies in quota allocations and to control how many non-UK vessels fish in the UK's waters, how and where they fish. The principle of equal access will no longer apply.

  • The NFFO recognises the reality that many of the UK's stocks are shared with countries that will remain within the EU, and also with Norway and other countries outside the EU. Joint responsibility for these stocks will require careful management through negotiated arrangements.

  • It will be important to maintain the whole range of the country's existing fishing opportunities, including those in EU and external waters.

  • Sustainable fishing should remain at the heart of the UK’s fishing policy but the country should look for opportunities to develop high-yield, low-impact fishing strategies without the rigid and frequently counterproductive strictures of the CFP: take the best and ditch the worst

  • Catching fish is one thing but it is also important to sell them under the most favorable conditions; market access will also be high in considerations.

  • The NFFO anticipates that the government will want to provide the same level of financial support for the industry to assist operators adjust to the new arrangements.

A working group has been set up by the Executive Committee to develop detailed policy on all of the key aspects of post-Brexit fisheries.

The group has had its first meeting and will continue to work as long as is necessary. Some of the themes under discussion are:

  • Access arrangements post Brexit
  • Shared stocks and Relative Stability post-Brexit
  • Addressing quota anomalies and maintaining external waters fishing opportunities post-Brexit
  • Sustainable fishing policies outside the CFP
  • Discard ban post-CFP
  • Market access for UK fisheries products post-Brexit
  • Industry funding post-EMFF


Brexit offers an opportunity but it is not without its risks for the fishing industry. In order that the UK government negotiates the best possible arrangements it is going to be important for the NFFO to work closely with the key UK negotiators until the shape of the new deal is clear. Fisheries will form an important strand - but only one strand – within the Brexit negotiations with the EU. It will be important to ensure that fishing is given the priority that it deserves and the way to do that will be to ensure our priorities are reflected in clear and cohesive negotiating positions.