Fishing- The Good, The Bad, And What Is Yet To Come

The trade deal has been done between the UK and the EU with it still to be ratified by both the UK and the EU Parliaments.

A lot was heard about the Fishing sector during the EU referendum, and during all these 4 years of negotiations.

The Fishing Industry has never been fond of membership of the EU mostly because of the extremely poor deal done by UK Tory Prime Minster Ted Heath when we went into the ‘Common Market’.

And we all remember the dreadful scenes a few years back of fish being dumped when it was over the catch quota allowed.

Fishing is a diverse sector and unfortunately there was a great deal of focus on the deep sea fleet with very little attention paid to inshore fisheries, processing and coastal communities. One size most definitely does not fit all when it comes to fish and fishing.

For the UK, Fishing is an extremely small part of the economy but for Scotland it is quite a different picture. You just have to look at a map of our sea boundaries to realise the potential wealth in Scotland’s Seas.

Map of international boundaries by Andmoreagain0815

As it is such a small part of the overall UK economy it is an easy sector for UK politicians to bargain with.

The UK as a whole voted to leave the EU on Thursday 23rd of June 2016 in an advisory referendum with 51.9% Leave, 48.1% Remain. A very close result which saw Scotland vote quite differently: 38% Leave, 62% Remain.

For over 4 years the UK Government has been negotiating a trade deal with the EU, the world’s largest free trade area where goods, people and services move around freely.

On 1st of January 2021 all that changes for the UK – with the exception of Northern Ireland which has special status. The Irish Government has even announced that it will pay for Northern Irish students to still be able to access the Erasmus scheme – now denied to all UK students.

Exporting Fish

(Information from the UK Government website)

To export or move fish to the EU or NI from GB after 1 January 2021, you’ll need to follow the same rules that are currently in place for exports of fish to some non-EU countries. You’ll need to create:

You’ll also need to meet health and identification mark requirements.

You may also need:

  • direct landing documents
  • a storage document if your product has been stored
  • a processing statement if your product has been processed

You’ll need to follow customs and border inspection requirements.

There will be no new requirements for consignments of fish and fishery products moving from NI to the EU.

There will also be no new requirements for NI businesses moving consignments of fish and fishery products from NI to GB, in line with the UK government’s commitment to unfettered access. The only extremely limited exceptions apply where goods fall within procedures relating to specific international obligations binding on the UK (like requirements on the trade of endangered species, or the movement of bluefin tuna or Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish).

So different arrangements for Northern Ireland – but not for Scotland with that very solid 62% Remain vote.

For trading fish and fish products to the EU from the UK, the deal means that there is a ‘preferential tariff’ arrangement for those that have the UK as their ‘origin’ status. This means that providing all the paperwork is in place – see above – trading of fish and fish products will carry on much as it did before – unless there are hold ups checking paperwork, delays for lorries etc.

Fishing and Access to UK Waters

For access to UK waters – if you recall there was a lot made about being ‘an independent coastal state’ –

An adjustment period is hereby established. The adjustment period shall last from 1 January 2021 until 30 June 2026. Article 1, Annex Fish 4. Draft EU UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

during the adjustment period each Party shall grant to vessels of the other Party full access to its waters to fish

There is a lot of information on the quotas which will be permitted (see Annex Fish 1, Fish 2, Fish 3, at end of article where you can also download the whole draft agreement)

And even this little nugget – that qualifying vessels will be able to fish “between six and twelve nautical miles from the baselines in ICES divisions 4c and 7d-g to the extent that each Party’s qualifying vessels had access to that zone on 31 December 2020.”

ATLANTIC, NORTHEAST (Major Fishing Area 27) Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations

Was this the great deal of being an ‘independent coastal state’ that politicians promised fishing communities ?

Folks might remember this picture of Ruth Davidson leader of the Tories in Scotland in 2017  signing ” the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation pledge to take the UK out of the EU and out of the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy.”

There are lots of pictures of Scotland’s opposition MPs and MSPs with this pledge taken at every election since that EU referendum vote in 2016.

It seems in Scotland a politician’s pledge is worth as much as his/her Vow.

To access the full draft Trade Deal and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK click on this link: Draft EU UK Trade Deal and Cooperation Agreements

And here are copies of Annex Fish 1, Fish 2 and Fish 3 if you don’t want to read the whole document.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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5 replies »

  1. All political parties for what ever reasons fail to deliver on their promises. You don’t have to look further than the considerable list this present Scottish government has chalked up.

    • Which pales into insignificance compared with the government in Westminster. There is a difference though. Some political parties deliberately fail to deliver on their promises, those are called U-turns. Guess which government excels at those?

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