Prepare your fisheries business for Brexit

What you need to do as a fisheries business to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Access to waters

Access to waters will change if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Rules for access to UK waters

The UK government 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)

Non-UK vessels, including EU, EEA or Switzerland registered vessels, will no longer have the automatic right to fish in UK waters.

The London Fisheries Convention, which gives access for specific countries to fish in the UK’s 6-12 nautical mile zone, will not apply to the UK.

Non-UK vessels will still be able to sail through UK waters under their right of safe passage set out in The United Nations Convention of the Sea (UNCLOS).

EU and non-EU (third country) waters

There will be no automatic access for UK-registered vessels to fish in EU, EEA or third country waters. Fishing gear will need to be removed from non-UK waters before the UK leaves the EU.

Future access to fish in EU and other coastal state waters in a no-deal Brexit is still under negotiation.

If you are an owner or skipper of a fishing vessel, you must apply for an IMO number now to prepare for all Brexit scenarios if your vessel either:

  • weighs 100 gross tons or more
  • is 12 metres or longer

Western Waters

The current Western Waters effort regime and days at sea effort baselines will continue to apply in UK waters after Brexit.

Fishing in UK waters

There’ll 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 and discard policy.

Quota allocations and fishing opportunities

The UK fisheries administrations will confirm any changes to your allocation. There will be no mean for the UK to exchange fishing opportunities (quota and effort) with EU member states.

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.

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 forms (PSC1 or PSC2) before landing.

Regional fisheries management organisations

The UK will join all relevant regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) as quickly as possible after Brexit. The joining process may take up to six months so there may be a gap in the UK’s membership. During this time, UK vessels may not be able to fish in international waters covered by RFMOs.

Access to ports

UK vessels will no longer have automatic rights to land fish in any EU port unless there is a case of distress or an unexpected event. All landings must go through an EU designated point of entry.

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 will no longer have automatic rights to land in any UK ports unless there is a case of distress or an unexpected event. EU vessels fishing in North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission Convention Area and landing into the UK will need to complete a Port State Control 1 form.

Importing and exporting

There are some actions you’ll need to take if you import or export products between the UK and EU.

Preparing for disruption to trade at the UK-EU border

To minimise disruption to your business at border points you should take the following steps:

  1. Get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number so you can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisations.

  2. Decide if you want to hire an import-export agent, or make the declarations yourself.

  3. Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out what information they need to make the declarations for your goods, or if you will need to make them yourself.

If you do not import and export products directly check that any agent or business you use is prepared.

Read the guidance on simplified customs procedures for trading with the EU if we leave without a deal.

Further information is provided in HMRC’s advice for businesses trading with the EU.

Preparing to move goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland

Goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland will face different procedures compared to other UK-EU trade in a no-deal Brexit.

Read the guidance on customs procedures and VAT for goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Preparing for changes to existing trade agreements

The way you access existing favourable arrangements with the EU may change after Brexit. Changes may be different for each country.

Read the guidance on changes to trading with non-EU countries that have a free trade agreement with the EU.

Preparing for changes to import tariffs

The UK will implement a temporary tariff regime in a no-deal Brexit. This will apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation, and review on a permanent approach, is undertaken.

Under the temporary tariff regime the majority of UK imports will be tariff-free.

Check the temporary rates of customs duty on imports after Brexit.

Exporting fish and fishery products to the EU

To export wild-caught marine fish or fishery products to the EU in a no Brexit deal you’ll need:

You may also need:

  • a prior notification form
  • a pre-landing declaration
  • a storage document
  • a processing statement

The EU uses these documents to monitor fishing activity and to detect illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Read the guide on exporting and importing fish if there’s no Brexit deal.

Direct landings

Vessel owners or skippers making direct landings off UK vessels into EU ports will need to:

The discard ban will remain the same.

You will not need an Export Health Certificate for direct landings in an EU port from a UK flagged fishing vessel.

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

Your 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 may change case by case depending on the type of fishery or distance from grounds to port.

If the fish you’re importing has been stored, you’ll need a storage document.

If it’s been processed, you’ll need a processing statement from the exporter.

You’ll need an Export Health Certificates for imports of fish that originate outside of the EU. You will not need an Export Health Certificate for imports of fish or fish products from the EU for at least 6 months after the UK leaves the EU.

Eels and eel products

The UK will not be able to import or export European eel unless following CITES processes.

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.

Labelling and marketing of fishery and aquaculture

The rules for what you must show on food labels will change for some food and drink products in a no-deal Brexit. Some of the new rules will come into effect from exit day. For others, you’ll have longer to update your food labels.

The labelling requirements for fishery and aquaculture products continue to apply.

Food labelling changes after Brexit explains how Brexit might affect labelling.

Your employees

There are certain schemes and processes you should be aware of if you employ people.

Find out more in Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members after Brexit.

Employing seasonal workers

You’ll still be able to employ seasonal workers from the EU. European Temporary Leave to Remain will allow EEA citizens arriving in the UK after 31 October 2019 to live, work and study in the UK if there’s no Brexit deal.

You can use the EU seasonal worker information for employers to give further details to your employees.

Stay up to date

Some of these requirements may change depending on the terms that the UK leaves the EU. Visit Prepare your business for Brexit to find more guidance on changes relevant to your sector. You can also bookmark and revisit this web page or sign up for Brexit email alerts to stay up to date.

Published 1 March 2019
Last updated 24 June 2019 + show all updates
  1. Update to employing seasonal workers, and access to waters
  2. Added information on applying for IMO number
  3. Added information about WTO
  4. First published.