Yesterday marked an historic moment for fishing. We have entered into our first fisheries agreement as an independent coastal state, an important step in building a prosperous future for the UK fishing industry. That includes our fishing communities here in Cornwall, from Newlyn to Mevagissey and Hayle to Looe.
The UK-Norway Fisheries Framework Agreement was negotiated between the UK and Norway as independent coastal states, through friendly cooperation as sovereign equals. It reflects our rights under international law and makes clear that the UK will be an ambitious, constructive, and pragmatic partner to like-minded fishing nations as we leave the Common Fisheries Policy.
After 40 years, we finally have our own seat at the fisheries negotiating table rather than being represented by the European Commission. In all our negotiations, we will work with other North Atlantic states, like Norway or the Faroes, to insist on a fairer approach. We can work together to manage our fisheries flexibly, responsively, and responsibly – negotiating access to waters and fishing opportunities annually so we can make decisions based on the latest science and the health of our fish stocks.
The agreement we have reached with Norway shows what can be achieved when both parties take a sensible approach to negotiations. We are taking the same approach to fisheries negotiations with the European Union, and have been clear that we want a fairer, more prosperous, and more sustainable future for our fisheries.
The Fisheries Bill sets out a new framework to allow us to manage fisheries outside the CFP, and gives the UK control of our waters and the opportunity to set fishing opportunities. We have the power to decide who can access UK waters and on what terms – ensuring that our fishing fleets can prosper.
For too long, we have only caught about half of the fish in our waters. And for too long, a ‘one size fits all’ mindset in Brussels has seen targets, measures, rules, and regulations swell rather than fish stocks – with too much reporting and too little action to improve sustainability and resilience.
Our approach will adapt to the latest scientific evidence, respond to technological innovation, and work transparently with local industry and local communities. And we are leading calls to end the wasteful discarding of fish at sea, working on an approach that will mean all catches can be landed, while preventing over-fishing.
Now that we have left the EU we have a great opportunity to chart a new course for our fishing industry and we owe it to our hard-working fishing communities to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to take back control of our natural resources. Through agreements like the one we have signed with Norway, we will help them access the sea’s riches, while restoring our fish stocks to healthy levels so we achieve a better balance for the future.