London and Brussels have agreed catch limits for 70 shared fish stocks worth approximately £333million in fishing opportunities to UK vessels. It aims to provide stability for UK fleets who know how much fish they can catch, while also helping to ensure the sustainability of the maritime habitat.
When in the EU, Brussels was in charge of determining catch levels in UK waters for all member states.
Now the UK is free from the trade bloc the EU must take part in annual discussions with Britain to agree on its catch.
The deal signed today replaces provisional catch limits set by the two sides earlier this year.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “As we move forward as an independent coastal state, we have been steadfast in representing the interests of our industry and seeking to manage our fisheries more sustainably.
“This agreement provides certainty to our fishing industry and we now have a stable platform in place for managing our fisheries this year and in future years.”
Under the free trade agreement brokered between the UK and EU on Christmas Eve last year, Britain has regained control of its waters.
Fisheries from the continent will continue to be allowed to catch in UK waters for the next five years but must apply for a licence to do so.
Over the course of the transition, the size of the catch for British vessels will increase by 25 percent with a deal for what happens after that yet to be agreed.
The catch size will increase every year between now and 2025.
As a result of the agreement, this year the UK fleet will have around 26,000 tonnes more quota for these stocks compared to quotas allocated in 2020.
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Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs believe the increase is worth approximately £27million.
Since the UK left the EU, fishing has been a regular point of friction between London and Brussels.
French ministers and fisheries have accused Britain of being slow to issue licences for vessels to catch in UK waters.
Paris threatened to block a deal on financial services with the EU unless more licences were issued.
UK officials have insisted they have granted permits to all European vessels which have submitted the necessary paperwork.
The row came to a head last month when French fishers threatened to block access to Jersey’s main port, accusing the Channel island of failing to honour its licences obligations.
Boris Johnson was forced to send in the Royal Navy to calm tensions.
Since then the UK and France have agreed to work together to cool down the temperature over the issue.