Fisheries and Brexit

The UK Government has announced it is withdrawing the UK from the 1964 London Convention on Fisheries in order to take control of its fishing policy and brings into focus issues surrounding Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy.

The 1964 London Convention was signed by 13 European countries in order to establish and define a fisheries regime for their coastal waters and it allows vessels from other countries to fish in British waters if they had habitually fished in that same region between 1 January 1953 and 31 December 1962.

The Convention on Fisheries requires Member States to provide two years’ notice if they wish to withdraw and is one of the reasons why it is happening now.

The EU currently governs fisheries policy in the UK with the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which will continue to apply in the UK until the UK has legally ceased to be a member. After that, access to fishing grounds will be determined by international law rather than EU law and the UK will have sovereign control over the resources in its waters.

The future relationship regarding fisheries policy is subject to current and future negotiations between the UK and the EU, however, the EU has stated that

The agreement on a future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom as such can only be concluded once the United Kingdom has become a third country

so it is unclear how negotiations over a future fisheries policy can be achieved prior to the UK leaving the EU.

The EU recently published an extensive document (164 pages) following a Workshop on “Common Fisheries Policy and BREXIT” of 21th June 2017, organised by the Committee on Fisheries (COMPECH) and the Policy Department B (PECH Research) of the European Parliament.
It examines the Common Fisheries Policy and the implications of Brexit in three parts

  • Legal framework for governance
  • Trade and economic related issues
  • Resources and fisheries

This document was produced on behalf of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries. It provides an economic analysis of the expected consequences of Brexit and examines possible future EU-UK agreements on fisheries issues. The document covers a number of topics and shows figures detailing the amount of fishing performed by EU countries in UK waters, trade in products between the UK and EU and vice versa, possible tariffs on UK imports of fish and fish products from the EU and exports of UK fish and products to the EU etc.

The Commons Library issued a briefing paper Brexit: What next for UK fisheries?

A copy of the 1964 London Convention on Fisheries can be found on the Treaties website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at

or the treaty document at