Yesterday the UK’s first major domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years passed into law. The Fisheries Act 2020 gives the UK full control of its fishing waters for the first time since 1973.
The Fisheries Act will enable the UK to control who fishes in our waters through a new foreign vessel licencing regime and ends the current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters.
Underpinning everything in the Act is a commitment to sustainability, ensuring healthy seas for future generations of fishermen. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations will now develop new fisheries management plans for managing fisheries to benefit the fishing industry and the marine environment.
Healthy fish stocks, with the prospect of further fishing opportunities delivered through international negotiations, will help drive economic growth for coastal communities around the country by making sure the industry can continue to thrive for years to come.
The Act now places the UK on a firm legal footing as the Transition Period ends, with the ability to put in place and enforce new rules to protect our offshore marine protected areas – boosting the government’s Blue Belt of marine protection around England’s coast.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
This is a huge moment for the UK fishing industry. This is the first domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years, and we will now take back control of our waters out to 200 nautical miles or the median line.
The Fisheries Act makes clear our intention to continue to operate on the world stage as a leading, responsible, independent coastal State. We will protect our precious marine environment, whilst ensuring a fairer share of fishing opportunities for UK fishermen.
By swiftly responding to the latest scientific advice and needs of our fishing industries we will secure a thriving future for our coastal communities.
Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said:
The Fisheries Act marks another crucial milestone as we embark on a new journey as an independent coastal State.
This means that we can tailor our policies to the needs of the UK industry – making the most of the riches of our waters, in harmony with the needs of the marine environment.
Barrie Deas, Chief Executive, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said:
The passage of the Fisheries Act 2020 into law is a landmark event. The new legislation has successfully avoided the pitfalls of the Common Fisheries Policy.
It provides a balanced framework for a much more agile, flexible system of sustainable fisheries management in the future, consistent with the UK’s new status as an independent coastal State.
Elspeth Macdonald, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said:
The Fisheries Bill becoming law is another important milestone in the UK becoming an independent coastal State at the end of this year.
The Fisheries Act will provide the right legal framework for responsible fisheries management in the UK, and SFF looks forward to working with both the UK and Scottish governments in taking forward the innovative approaches, such as fisheries management plans, that the Act makes provision for.
For more information about the Fisheries Act visit Gov.uk