What the fishing, seafood and aquaculture industries need to do to prepare for rules and processes that will apply if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
Rules for access to waters from 29 March 2019
When the UK leaves the EU, it will control and manage access to fish in UK waters, and be responsible for managing our:
- territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles)
- Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nautical miles or the median line with other states)
The UK will make sure that fisheries control and enforcement continue.
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 (subject to any existing agreements covering territorial waters).
EU and third country waters
There will be no automatic access for UK-registered vessels to fish in EU or third country waters (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’ll aim to do this in March 2019.
The government will also confirm arrangements for:
- non-quota shellfish (scallops and edible/spider crabs)
- demersal species under the Western Waters effort regime.
There will be no automatic access for:
- the UK Fisheries Administrations to exchange fishing opportunities with EU member states
- for 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, so there may be a gap in our membership.
During this time, UK vessels may not be able to fish in international waters covered by RFMOs. We’ll 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
- 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 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 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.
You will not need a catch certificate for trade:
- in some aquaculture products
- freshwater fish
- some molluscs
- fish fry
The rules on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will not change.
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:
- 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. See the existing guidance on:
- fish sold for human consumption
- fish and aquaculture products
The roles of Producer Organisations will also stay the same.
European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
The UK government has guaranteed that all 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 will not be able to import or export European eel. Most of the eel (Anguilla japonica) consumed in the UK is imported from China and so the impact on consumers should be limited.