Sunday

25th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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".

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us