General fisheries Brexit questions & answers

Technical Notices on Preparing for EU Exit from the GOV.UK website:

What is happening to the Common Fisheries Policy?

If there is a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU there will be an implementation period until December 2020. During that time fishing in UK waters will continue to be controlled by rules laid down by the Common Fisheries Policy.  UK licensed fishing boats will be able to continue to fish in EU waters as they do now to take their quotas.

When the UK leaves the EU, (after a transition period or as a result of leaving without a withdrawal agreement) it will control and manage access to fisheries in UK waters.

DAERA has responsibility for managing the NI Fishing Zone and for the licensing and management of NI fishing vessels wherever they fish.  A new framework for fisheries framework will comprise legislative and administrative arrangements. The legislative base relies heavily on EU regulations retained by the Withdrawal Act. Administrative arrangements will be described in a MoU and build on an existing 2012 agreement between the Fisheries Administrations.

How will sea fishing activities be impacted by Brexit?

Under any scenario (Deal/No Deal) sea fishing activities by UK fishing vessels, will be largely unchanged in terms of the rules they are required to comply with and the fish quotas they can take (which were set in December 2018). But in the event of a No Deal scenario, UK fishing vessels cannot fish in EU waters and EU vessels cannot fish in UK waters. In those circumstances, it is expected that the UK Government and the EU will likely want to put in place some continuity arrangements to ensure there is certainty and stability for fishing businesses and reduce the prospect of detrimental damage on fish stocks.

What if I import or export fish to and from the EU?

Those businesses importing or exporting fish to and from the EU will have to follow new rules and processes. UK exporters will be required to obtain a validated catch certificate for most fish and fish products that are exported to the EU after 12 April 2019. Exports will also require an Export Health Certificate.

The UK Government has published new guidance outlining what documents businesses need to complete to continue to trade fish with the EU in the event of No Deal. DAERA has involved local businesses in the testing of new digital systems and has organised a series of information workshops in March. The new digital Catch Certificate system is scheduled to go live on 26 March. More detailed guidance in the Catch Certificates section.

Will there be any financial support for the fishing industry?

The financial support for the Northern Ireland fishing industry will continue under the rules set down for the European Marine and Fisheries Fund. The UK government has guaranteed that all EMFF projects approved before 31 December 2020 will be fully funded. The DEFRA Secretary of State, has stated that there will be 4 (one for each devolved jurisdiction) new “National” fisheries grant schemes from 2021, provided a robust justification of need is demonstrated. DAERA will be holding informal discussions in April with key stakeholders to identify themes, activities, and type and level of support that may be required in the period 2021-2026.

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