UK - Sustainability prioritized as UK government rolls out post-Brexit fisheries bill

With the United Kingdom due to withdraw from the European Union on Friday, 31 January, new legislation has been introduced into U.K. parliament that creates the powers for the country to operate as an independent coastal state and to manage its fish stocks independently.

Beyond delivering a legal guarantee that the United Kingdom will leave the E.U.’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the end of the transition period in December 2020, and also ending the automatic rights for E.U. vessels to fish in British waters, the new fisheries bill contains provisions that take into account climate change’s impact on fisheries, as well as the new objective to move towards “climate-smart fishing” in U.K. waters.

The bill also sets out a new legal requirement for all fish stocks to be fished at sustainable levels, and creates guidelines to ensure fisheries management decisions are made strategically, for the benefit of the whole marine environment.

Furthermore, fisheries management plans will be tailored to the country’s mixed fisheries, which have lots of fish stocks swimming together and where certain fishing practices can have a significant impact on the marine environment. The plans will also recognize that many U.K. fish stocks are “shared stocks” as they will swim in both domestic and other coastal states’ waters. For these stocks, the bill identifies negotiation with other coastal states will be crucial to their sustainable management.

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