The government withdrew from the London Convention in July, which means that, after the two year withdrawal period, foreign vessels will not be able to fish in the area six to 12 nautical miles out to sea. There is some debate as to whether the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) had already superseded this legislation, but, either way, it gives an indication of the UK government’s intention to restrict access to UK waters, or at least to establish fisheries as a subject for negotiation during the exit process. Any change in access must be accompanied by clear mechanisms for co-ordination with neighbouring countries to ensure sustainable management of shared resources.
There is continued uncertainty surrounding any co-operation or co-ordination between Westminster and the devolved administrations. New fisheries legislation needs to be agreed jointly by the four administrations to deliver coherent and co-ordinated management across the UK. With regard to regional engagement (eg on the North Sea) and commitments to current legislation, there is evidence of the UK government giving up on current CFP commitments, particularly the discard ban, in anticipation of new arrangements coming into force. However, the Prime Minister’s speech
in Florence stated that the UK and EU share a commitment to high environmental standards, and outlined her preference for a new economic relationship that is underpinned by those standards.