Sunday

19th Aug 2018

UK leaves fishing convention amid Brexit talks

  • Countries are allowed to fish within 6 to 12 nautical miles of the coastline, according to the convention. (Photo: Ben Sutherland)

The UK is pulling out of a fishing convention that allows countries to fish near its coast, in order to fulfil one of its Brexit pledges.

Britain announced on Sunday (2 July) that it would withdraw from the 50-year-old London Fisheries Convention, which allows fishermen from some European countries to fish between six and 12 nautical miles (11 and 12 km) from its coastline.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The convention also allows UK fishermen to fish close to the coast of Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

After a two-year withdrawal period, British fishermen will no longer be allowed into the waters, and vice versa.

"This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union, one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK,” environment secretary and Brexit supporter Michael Gove said.

"It means for the first time in more than 50 years, we will be able to decide who can access our waters," he added.

However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that leaving the London agreement does not mean the UK would be able to unilaterally decide whom to allow in and whom to keep out of its waters.

He said on Twitter that nothing would change because the EU's fishery laws are superior to the London Convention.

The London Convention was signed in 1964 before the UK joined the EU. The EU Common Fisheries Policy allows vessels from all EU countries to fish beyond the 12-mile limit.

British fishermen have been complaining that when the UK joined the European Community in 1973, their interests were sidelined.

Ireland's agriculture minister, Michael Creed, however criticised Britain's decision as "unwelcome and unhelpful.”

According to official data, 10,000 tonnes of fish – worth an estimated £17 million (€19 million) – were caught by vessels from other countries in 2015. However, the overall UK fisheries sector, with over 6,000 vessels, landed 708,000 tonnes of fish under the agreement – worth £775 million (€883 million).

No more cake

The move comes after the Guardian newspaper reported that London has realised it has to choose between political control and market access as it leaves the EU.

After the snap election last month saw UK prime minister Theresa May lose her majority, supporters of a softer Brexit, spearheaded by the Treasury and its chief, Philip Hammond, have gained more influence in the government.

The Guardian newspaper reported London has realised that it would have to abandon the policy of “having its cake and eating it”, meaning retaining full trade access and controlling immigration at the same time.

A spokesman for the Brexit ministry denied that there had been a change of policy since the election.

In the meantime, the Sunday Telegraph reported that business leaders were warned prime minister May could walk out of Brexit talks over the issue of the financial settlement as part of a negotiating tactic.

Estimates of the Brexit divorce bill vary between €60 and €100 billion.

EU mulls post-Brexit budget options

EU seeks novel ways to plug a Brexit-based budget hole of up to €11 billion, but income from fines, such as the one on Google, cannot be relied on.

May defends proposal on EU citizens' rights

“We want you to stay”, British leader Theresa May told EU nationals on Monday, but the UK's "settled status" plan lacked "ambition", the EU said.

UK agrees to EU conditions on Brexit talks

In their first meeting, the EU's Michel Barnier and Brexit minister David Davis agreed that talks on future relations will start only when "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce proceedings.

Barnier sets price for hard Brexit

The EU Brexit negotiator warned that a customs union between the UK and EU will not be possible if the UK doesn't want to respect single market rules, and "no deal" would send the UK back to "a distant past".

Barnier urges UK to come up with Brexit positions

The EU's negotiator calls on the UK government to come up with its positions on key Brexit issues ahead of the next round of talks on Monday. London is expected to do that by the end of the week.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us