The Common Fisheries Policy binds EU Member States to the agreement that the fishing fleets of every EU country involved have full access to each other’s waters, apart from the first 12 nautical miles out from each country’s coast.
The UK is still bound by this policy until the end of this year. However, when the UK becomes an ‘independent coastal state', the UK will have control over an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles into the North Atlantic.
Nevertheless, the fish populations in UK waters is so plentiful that the EU wants to maintain the same level of access to UK waters that other Member States avail of now. This is to ensure EU fisherman who traditionally fished in UK waters can continue to do so.
The EU also wants to establish an agreement that sets out the amount of fish each country’s boats are allowed to catch, without the need for renegotiation every year.
The UK has voiced concerns over the possibility of there being a return to overfishing. The UK want any agreement reached between them and the EU to include commitments to put an end to overfishing and to work on restoring fish populations. Should no deal be reached between the EU and UK, there is a high probability of overfishing taking place as there will be no agreed catch limits.
While the EU wants to maintain the status quo, the UK is on a different page. The UK will soon have control over who can fish in its waters, but the EU have made it clear that without a deal on fisheriesno special access to the EU single market will be granted to the UK
These two issues are intrinsically linked due to the fact that most of the fish caught by UK fishermen is exported. The majority of the fish exported is sold within the EU. Some industries rely on these exports for their businesses to survive and the implementation of additional taxes and tariffs could lead to their demise.
The EU and UK agreed to reach a deal by 1 July of this year, but the deadline has since passed with no resolve. A final agreement must be in place by October to allow enough time for it to be ratified into law before the Brexit transition period ends.