Fishing and marketing of seafood if there’s no Brexit deal

How the fishing, seafood and aquaculture industries need to prepare for rules and processes if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page has been replaced by a newer version. Go to Prepare your fisheries business for Brexit for the latest information.

Rules for access to waters after the UK leaves the EU

When the UK leaves the EU, the government will control and manage access to fish in UK waters. It will be responsible for managing the UK’s:

  • territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles)
  • Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nautical miles or the median line with other states)

The UK government will make sure that fisheries control and enforcement continue.

UK waters

There will be no change to your rights and responsibilities if you have a UK-registered vessel fishing in UK waters. You must continue to comply with the law and the conditions of your licence, including the economic link criteria.

Non-UK-registered vessels will no longer have automatic access to UK waters. This will be subject to any existing agreements covering territorial waters.

EU and non-EU (third country) waters

There will be no automatic access for UK-registered vessels to fish in EU or non-EU (third country) waters. This will be subject to any existing agreements covering territorial waters.

Quota allocations and fishing opportunities

If you’re a UK quota holder, the UK fisheries administrations will tell you what your allocation will be. They aim to do this in October 2019.

The government will also confirm arrangements for:

  • non-quota shellfish (scallops, edible crabs and spider crabs)
  • demersal species under the Western Waters effort regime (demersal species live mainly on or near the sea floor)

There will be no automatic access for:

  • the UK Fisheries Administrations to exchange fishing opportunities with EU member states
  • EU member states to exchange fishing opportunities with the UK

North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Convention Area

You can prepare for the UK joining the NEAFC. For UK-registered vessels to continue fishing in the convention area, and landing into the EU, you must hold a current UK domestic licence. You’ll need this before you can apply for an international licence from the relevant fisheries authority.

Please contact your local fisheries authority office if you want further guidance on fishing internationally. You’ll also need to register with the NEAFC’s electronic Port State Control system and complete the Port State Control 1 forms.

Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs)

The UK will join all relevant RFMOs as quickly as possible - it will no longer be a member of RFMOs through EU membership. The joining process may take up to 6 months.

During this time, UK vessels may not be able to fish in international waters covered by RFMOs. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will keep fishermen informed of progress and what the outcome of a decision will mean in practice.

Access to ports

If you have a UK-registered vessel, you’ll no longer have an automatic right to land fish in any EU port. You’ll be allowed access to EU designated ports for:

  • port services
  • landings
  • transhipment
  • the use of market facilities (where vessels meet EU requirements on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing)

You must notify the relevant Fisheries Monitoring Centre of your intention to arrive into a designated port. You must notify vessel and catch-related information.

You’ll be allowed access to EU designated ports and non-EU (third country) ports without first telling the port of your plan to visit in cases:

  • of distress
  • if there’s an unexpected event (force majeure)

Your vessel may be inspected. This could include:

  • a full document check
  • inspection of the catch
  • database checks (if you’ve supplied information electronically)

EU and non-EU (third country) vessels landing into UK ports

Non-UK vessels, including EU vessels, will need to follow the same rules that will apply to UK-registered vessels accessing an EU port. For example, they’ll need to give notice of their plans to land, except in cases of distress and unexpected events (force majeure).

EU vessels fishing in the NEAFC Convention Area and landing into the UK will need to complete a Port State Control 1 form.

Import and export of fishery products

You’ll need a catch certificate for importing or exporting most fish and fish products between the UK and EU.

Find out when you’ll need a catch certificate and rules on exemptions in guidance on exporting and importing fish if there’s no Brexit deal.

The rules on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will not change.

Read the guidance on requirements if there’s no Brexit deal for:

Exporting UK-caught fish and fishery products to the EU

You’ll need a catch certificate with each consignment of fish or fishery products you export to the EU. It will be your responsibility as the exporter to complete a catch certificate.

If the consignment will be sourced from more than one UK vessel, you’ll need to complete a Multiple Vessel Schedule.

You’ll need to submit this along with the catch certificate.

Vessel owners or skippers making direct landings of UK vessels into EU ports will also need to issue a catch certificate.

You’ll need verification for the content of a catch certificate from the UK fisheries authority where the vessel is licensed. You will need this before submitting the content to the competent authority in the EU country of import. The UK fisheries authorities are:

  • the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in England
  • Marine Scotland
  • the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland
  • Welsh Government

The UK fisheries authorities are developing an IT system to deal with the increase in export catch certificates.

Importing EU-caught fish and fishery products to the UK

For EU imports, you’ll need a catch certificate for each:

  • consignment
  • direct landing of fish or fishery products

The exporter will have to submit the certificate to the Port Health Authorities or relevant fisheries authority.

The certificate will need to be checked at least 3 working days before the estimated arrival time into the UK. This deadline could be adapted to take account of the type of fishery or distance from fishing ground to port.

Labelling and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products

The rules and standards for labelling and marketing in the EU and UK will stay the same. Read the labelling and marketing guidance to find out about:

  • fish sold for human consumption
  • fish and aquaculture products

The roles of Producer Organisations will also stay the same.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

The UK government has guaranteed that all European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) projects approved before 31 December 2020 will be fully funded.

Eels and eel products

Trade in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), within and outside the EU, will remain subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means the UK imports of exports of European eel must follow CITES processes.

Published 10 January 2019