Risks to North Sea Fish Stocks and Wildlife if Post-Brexit Fishery Negotiations Fail to Reach Agreement on Quotas and Access to UK Waters : Summary Report

Heath, Michael R. and Cook, Robin M. (2020) Risks to North Sea Fish Stocks and Wildlife if Post-Brexit Fishery Negotiations Fail to Reach Agreement on Quotas and Access to UK Waters : Summary Report. [Report]

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    Abstract

    "Taking back control of fisheries" became one of the totemic issues uniting supporters of the campaign to leave the EU. Having left, the issue is again high on the agenda in the 'future relationship' negotiations. The UK Government has indicated that getting a better deal for UK fishermen is a "red line" in the negotiations. This includes increases in quota for UK vessels, and restrictions on access to UK waters by foreign vessels. However, the EU has linked access to UK waters and maintenance of quotas enshrined in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) with securing tariff-free trade in fish and other products. This report focuses on the North Sea and provides an assessment of the risks to stock and ecosystem conservation associated with the post-Brexit fisheries negotiations. The report first sets out the history behind the allocation of quota shares (Relative Stability) and compares the UK shares with those under proposed alternative rules based on the distribution of fish ("zonal attachment"). Unless a negotiated agreement can be reached to resolve these different views on quota allocation there is a risk that unilateral actions will result in the combined catches by all states exceeding the levels required for long-term maximum sustainable yields. The report sets out a narrative for the impact of such unilateralism on harvesting rates, and then presents results from models which show the risks that these would pose for key fish stocks and wildlife.