Most of you have heard of Brexit, but do you know what the implications may be for the ocean, and the resources that are harvested once the UK goes through with its withdrawal?
Together with my colleague Michael Harte at Oregon State University, we have a couple of publications to point you in the direction of knowing precisely more about this. The first is an academic article published in ICES Journal (Countering a climate of instability: the future of relative stability under the Common Fisheries Policy) and the second is a follow-up blog post in Secure Fisheries.
What does Brexit have to do with fisheries? Take the comment from the French minister of agriculture, Didier Guillaume, who has already warned Johnson in July 2019 against banning European boats from Britain’s fisheries in a UK EEZ, stating that “There is no scenario in which French fishermen should be prevented, could be prevented, would be prevented by Boris Johnson, from fishing in British waters,” .
In a blog post for Secure Fisheries, we elaborate on our article in a more reader friendly manner, some may say, and talk about concrete implications such as:
- The EU will in fact have to renegotiate its share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for stocks that are currently shared with the UK and other non-EU neighboring countries such as Norway and the Faroe Islands. In fact, not just the EU – but all the third countries that today have agreements with the EU will have to renegotiate, with a new player at the table, namely the UK.
- The UK only has 12 vessels to patrol all its waters at this time, which is not a lot given the statement from the French minister about EU fishers who then would be fishing illegally. In the blog article, my colleague Harte and I speculate that this could in a worst case scenario lead to UK-flagged fishing vessels taking international law into their own hands by taking direct action against European vessels fishing in UK waters if the 12 patrol vessels are unable to deter EU fishers from illegally fishing in their waters.
- The seafood chain in the UK and the EU will also suffer with Brexit. Over years of collaborations, UK and European fishing companies have developed close business ties, with much investment and business codependency in place. A trade war would therefore naturally be devastating.
- Finally – for the EU – a Brexit will rock the foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy and the relative stability key; a ﬁxed percentage share of the TACs as a national quota that is allocated to Member states and varies depending on the fish stock or species in question. Given this, the EU will have to completely revamp fish quotas allocations between its member states after Brexit with internal competitions for quotas likely surfacing.
All is not well for sustainable ocean governance, in other words, with a forthcoming Brexit, and it will be of great interest to see how European leaders react to new realities both at the surface and at the great depths of the ocean in the near future.