“Let’s get Brexit done and take back control of our fishing waters”
Boris Johnson, speaking to fishermen in Grimsby
Boris Johnson is claiming that the Brexit withdrawal agreement will let Britain take full control of its fishing waters back from the EU.
After Brexit, the UK will cease to be part of the Common Fisheries Policy, becoming an independent coastal state and taking responsibility for managing fisheries in its Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from shore.
However, the withdrawal agreement specifies that the UK will be bound by the policy until the end of the transition period. Legislation has already been passed aimed at ensuring that existing rules will continue from Brexit day.
And the UK will still be bound more widely by the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea and how they relate to fisheries management. This includes an obligation to cooperate with other coastal states on the management of fish stock. In its July 2018 fisheries white paper, the government said it will cooperate closely with the EU and other coastal states on the sustainable management of fish stocks that cross borders.
While the UK will cease to be part of the Common Fisheries Policy, its membership of international organisations and the obligations it will have to accept means the UK is not “taking back control” of its fishing waters. The prime minister is misleading fishermen, who were major supporters of Brexit during the referendum.