Today the Council approved the agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on fishing opportunities for 2021 and, for deep-sea stocks, for 2021 and 2022. This agreement is the result of several rounds of consultations between the EU and the UK over the last five months. Amongst other provisions, it sets out the total allowable catches (TAC) for 75 shared fish stocks and a number of deep-sea stocks and provides clarity on access limits for non-quota species.
The agreement guarantees stability for fishermen and women in both the UK and the EU, while also ensuring sustainable management of marine resources. Moreover, it is in line with the social, environmental and economic principles of the Common Fisheries Policy, provides the certainty needed by the fishing industry, and paves the way for future consultations with the UK on fishing rights.
This agreement represents a milestone in EU-UK relations and sets a strong precedent for future negotiations with the UK on fishing opportunities. It provides clarity and stability for fishermen and women, while also ensuring that marine resources will continue to be used sustainably.
Ricardo Serrão Santos, Portuguese Minister of the Sea
Following the Council’s approval, the agreement will now be transposed into EU legislation. In line with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), a Specialised Committee on Fisheries will also be set up to finalise some of the pending issues, including quota swaps and certain technical measures.
Under the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) concluded in December 2020, the EU and the UK agreed to hold annual consultations on fishing opportunities. The aim of these consultations – which are led by the European Commission with the close involvement of the member states – is to determine the quantities of shared fishing stocks allocated to each party for the following year. Between January and May, five rounds of consultations took place.
During an informal video conference of fisheries ministers in January 2021, delegations set out their priorities for the bilateral consultations and supported the presidency’s initial guidance to the Commission for the start of the consultations. In February, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision concerning the position to be taken (on behalf of the EU) in the bilateral consultations. This position was based on the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, including socio-economic aspects, decision-making based on the best available scientific advice, a level playing field and respect for international obligations. The decision was adopted by the Council via written procedure in early March 2021.