UK begins London Fisheries Convention withdrawal

03 Jul 2017
vessel in UK waters

The London Fisheries Convention allows vessels from five European countries to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of the UK’s coastline

The UK government has begun its withdrawal from the London Fisheries Convention in a move that will remove foreign vessels’ access to UK waters.

The withdrawal is part of the UK’s preparation for leaving the EU and requires the UK to notify the other Member States signed up to the London Fisheries Convention, triggering a two-year withdrawal period.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy. It means for the first time in more than fifty years we will be able to decide who can access our waters.

“This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.”

The London Fisheries Convention, signed in 1964 before the UK joined the EU, allows vessels from five European countries to fish within six and 12 nautical miles of the UK’s coastline.

It sits alongside the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which allows all European vessels access between 12 and 200 nautical miles of the UK and sets quotas for how much fish each nation can catch.

The Government has pledged to secure a fair deal for the UK fishing industry ahead of Brexit, which will also dissolve the UK’s ties to the Common Fisheries Policy.

As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Government will introduce a Fisheries Bill to control access to the UK's waters and set fishing quotas once the UK has left the EU.

An engagement period for the Fisheries Bill will involve consultation with devolved administrations, fishermen, trade organisations and fish processors.

There were over 6,000 UK fishing vessels in 2015, which landed 708,000 tonnes of fish – worth £775m.

In 2015, an estimated 10,000 tonnes of fish, worth approximately 17m, was caught by vessels from London Fisheries Convention countries France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.