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Press releases

Britain to quit European fishing arrangement

2 min read

The UK is to withdraw from a fishing deal which has allowed other European countries to access British waters for decades.

Ministers will kick off the two-year process of leaving the London Fisheries Convention – a move which will also see British fishermen losing reciprocal rights to use other countries’ waters.

The agreement, which has been in place since 1964, allows Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland to fish in waters between six and 12 nautical miles of the UK’s coastline.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the move was an “historic step” as Britain prepares to quit the European Union.

“Leaving the London Fisheries Convention is an important moment as we take back control of our fishing policy,” he said.

“It means for the first time in more than 50 years we will be able to decide who can access our waters.

“This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union – one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK.”

Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said: “This is welcome news and an important part of establishing the UK as an independent coastal state with sovereignty over its own exclusive economic zone.”

Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace, said the move would not necessarily improve conditions for British fishermen and urged Mr Gove “to re-balance fishing quotas in favour of 'small-scale, specific locally-based fishing communities'", as planned in the 2015 Tory manifesto.

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