- GS-2: International events
Post-Brexit fishing row between France and the UK
In News: A row between the UK and France has erupted over post-Brexit fishing rights, with France saying that it could stop British boats from landing if the dispute wasn’t resolved by early next week.
- In fact, late 2020, these fishing rights were one of the sticking points in the post-Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK
What is this row about?
- As the UK became an “independent coast state” after December 31, 2020, Britain’s fishing industry, which makes up less than 0.1 per cent of the national economy, has been demanding greater access to the fishing grounds it currently shares with the EU.
- This has been vehemently resisted by EU
What has triggered the row now?
- This week, France seized a British boat from French waters, a move that was objected by the UK, which also threatened to undertake retaliatory action.
- During the post-Brexit trade negotiations that were finalised days before the transition period ended on January 1, 2021, the fishing aspect was overlooked because “other aspects of trade are simply much more important for the economies of both the UK and the EU.”
- At the moment, France is maintaining that Britain has not granted France enough licenses to operate in Britain’s water, while Britain is saying that it is issuing licenses to vessels that meet their criteria.
- France has also said that if the talks between the two countries did not make any progress, France will put sanctions including extra customs checks on British goods from November 2.
- France now wants that all the provisions that are set out within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement are applied fully.
How were fishing rights shared before Brexit?
- Fisheries in the EU – which included the UK until December 31, 2020 – are governed by the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
- Under the CFP, fleets from every EU member state can fish in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of all the other members, meaning the part of the sea that stretches up to 200 nautical miles from a nation’s coast, excluding its territorial waters – which end at 12 nautical miles from the coast.
- The EU as a bloc, and not individual countries, decides every December the volume of fish from each species that can be caught from the combined EEZs of its members, which are together considered a common resource. Fishing rights are then divided as per national quotas.
- As long as the UK remained a part of the EU, the CFP has allowed fleets from the rest of the bloc to trawl in British waters, which are considered to be very rich.
How will the fishing rights be shared after Brexit?
- Regaining control over UK waters was a key part of the Leave campaign in 2016.
- EU boats will continue to fish in UK waters for some years to come
- But UK fishing boats will get a greater share of the fish from UK waters
- That shift in the share will be phased in between 2021 and 2026, with most of the quota transferred in 2021
- After that, there’ll be annual negotiations to decide how the catch is shared out between the UK and EU
- The UK would have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026
- But the EU could respond with taxes on exports of British fish to the EU or by denying UK boats access to EU waters
Connecting the dots: