Fair access to fisheries resources in an environmentally and economically sustainable way is a value that lies at the heart of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The CFP provides the framework for fisheries management and regulation in Europe.
In the context of the CFP, we and our UK colleagues have been working closely with the international scientific community and the regulators to ensure the sustainability of our ecosystem, and the effective joint management of over 160 fish stocks in Europe.* This means that European and UK fleets abide by strict fishing quotas, partner together on multiannual fisheries management plans (including common technical specifications) and play an active role in safeguarding marine protected areas.
After Brexit, the CFP will cease to apply to the United Kingdom. Yet, the UK and EU fleets will carry on exploiting the same fish stocks and operating in an interdependent ecosystem. It will therefore be essential that the EU and the UK agree on a joint and sustainable management framework for the hundred stocks they will continue to share. This is non-negotiable – we cannot allow the progress in stock recovery that we have made, together, as an industry to be sacrificed all too suddenly.
While we cannot influence the decisions taken by UK politicians, we urge that common sense prevails. Sustainability must be prioritised above all else. The example of stock management in the North Sea demonstrates that under EU management, fishing pressure on the stocks have overall decreased for quota species and a large and increasing number of fish stocks, which were considered over exploited, are now increasing. It is thus in our shared interest to come to an agreement that builds on past successes and lays the foundation for a sustainable future.
*The EU sets TACs (Total Allowable Catch) for over 160 stocks, including a small number outside EU waters. The UK has a share in about 100 of these stocks.