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Council approves EU-UK fishing deal

The Council has approved an agreement between the EU and the UK on fishing opportunities for 2022, paving the way for EU fishermen and women to exercise their fishing rights in the Atlantic and the North Sea. The decision determines fishing rights for around 100 shared fish stocks in EU and UK waters, including the total allowable catch (TAC) limit for each species.

At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 12-13 December, ministers set provisional TAC's for fish stocks shared with the UK pending the outcome of the EU-UK consultations; these catch limits will be amended to take account of the new agreement. Minister Podgoršek added »The successful conclusion of this year’s consultations on shared fish stocks sets a good precedent for future negotiations with the UK. Thanks to good will and a constructive approach on both sides, we were able to reach an agreement that provides certainty for EU fishermen and women going forward.«

The regulation on fishing opportunities for 2022 – including the amendment containing the final quotas – will be finalised by the Council’s legal and linguistic experts, following which it will be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal. The provisions will apply retroactively as of 1 January 2022.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, fish stocks jointly managed by the EU and the UK are considered shared resources under international law. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the two parties sets out the terms under which the EU and the UK determine their respective fishing rights in the Atlantic and North Sea.

Under the TCA, both parties agree to hold annual talks with a view to determining TACs and quotas for the following year. Consultations are led by the Commission and take into account a number of factors, including:

  • international obligations
  • the recommended maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for each species, to ensure the long-term sustainability of fishing in line with the common fisheries policy
  • the best available scientific advice, with a precautionary approach taken where such advice is not available
  • the need to protect the livelihoods of fishermen and women

The Council provides political guidance to the Commission throughout the negotiation process and formally endorses the final agreement.