Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid has welcomed the passing of a new law that gives the UK full control over its fishing waters for the first time since 1973.
The Fisheries Act 2020 – the first major domestic fisheries legislation in over 40 years – officially became law on Monday, November 23 2020.
It will enable the UK to control who fishes in UK waters through a new foreign vessel licensing regime and ends the current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters.
The Fisheries Act will ensure
- The UK government and the Devolved Administrations will publish a legally binding Joint Fisheries Statement and develop to coordinate fisheries management plans and achieve sustainability goals
- EU vessels’ automatic access right to fish in UK waters is removed
- Foreign boats will be required a licence to fish in UK waters and will have to follow the UK’s rules
- Fisheries are managed in a sustainable way – balancing social, economic, and social benefits while preventing the over exploitation of fish stocks
- The UK fisheries administrations will seek to ensure increased benefits from fish caught by UK boats
- Sensitive marine species, such as dolphins, are protected and the bycatch of unwanted fish reduced
- UK boats can continue to access any part of UK waters, as they do now regardless, whether they are registered in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
- UK administrations can set up new domestic grant schemes, providing funding in new areas and tailored to the needs of their sectors.
The Act is underpinned by a commitment to sustainability to ensure healthy seas for future generations of fishermen. The UK Government will now work with the devolved administrations to develop new fisheries management plans.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said the passing of the law was an “important milestone” towards the UK becoming an independent coastal state. Elspeth Macdonald, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said
The Fisheries Bill becoming law is another important milestone in the UK becoming an independent coastal State at the end of this year.
The Fisheries Act will provide the right legal framework for responsible fisheries management in the UK, and SFF looks forward to working with both the UK and Scottish governments in taking forward the innovative approaches, such as fisheries management plans, that the Act makes provision for.
Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid said
I am delighted to see the Fisheries Act receiving Royal Assent after 10 months of scrutiny, debate and revision in parliament.
I have been directly involved in this process as a local MP for Banff and Buchan, on a Fisheries Bill Committee and more recently as a Scotland Office Minister, and I know that it places the UK on a firm legal footing ahead of the end of the EU Transition Period.
This Act allows the UK to take back control of our waters for the first time in nearly 40 years.
It is a major step on the road towards the UK regaining its status as an independent coastal state at the end of 2020.
I now look forward to the UK and Scottish governments working together to develop new fisheries management plans to support the industry while protecting the marine environment for the future.
The Act now places the UK on a firm legal footing as the Transition Period ends, with the ability to put in place and enforce new rules to protect our offshore marine protected areas – boosting the government’s Blue Belt of marine protection around England’s coast.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said
This is a huge moment for the UK fishing industry. This is the first domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years, and we will now take back control of our waters out to 200 nautical miles or the median line.
The Fisheries Act makes clear our intention to continue to operate on the world stage as a leading, responsible, independent coastal State. We will protect our precious marine environment, whilst ensuring a fairer share of fishing opportunities for UK fishermen.
By swiftly responding to the latest scientific advice and needs of our fishing industries we will secure a thriving future for our coastal communities.
Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said
The Fisheries Act marks another crucial milestone as we embark on a new journey as an independent coastal State.
This means that we can tailor our policies to the needs of the UK industry – making the most of the riches of our waters, in harmony with the needs of the marine environment.