After Brexit Can EU Fishing Boats Access UK Waters In 2021?

Fishing boats brexit UK EU

The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), applicable on a provisional basis from 1 January 2021.

As of 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom and the EU will co-operate under the TCA also in the domain of fisheries. Both the parties will exercise the coastal state rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing the living marine resources in their waters. 



As part of the TCA, and during a transition period until 30 June 2026, both the parties, i.e. the United Kingdom and the EU have agreed to grant to vessels of the other Party full access to its waters to fish in the respective Excusive Economic Zones (EEZs, 12-200 nautical miles); and in a specified part of the waters between six and twelve nautical miles.

Though a license will be required by the fishing boats of both the United Kingdom and the EU. Both Parties are informed of the lists of vessels of the other Party, for which authorisations and licences to fish in respective waters are requested.

The lists of licensed vessels (with access to the UK 12-200 nm waters) can be found at the following address, which will be updated in the coming days with the temporary licences for access to waters between 6 and 12 nautical miles, crown dependencies and for other additional vessels: List of Licensed Vessels

After 31 December 2020, until a license is issued, an EU Member State flagged vessel has no right to fish in UK waters, and needs to refrain from fishing in UK waters. This is the default situation until vessels have confirmation that they can go and fish in UK waters, through (temporary) licensing. Only when a vessel owner has ascertained the license to fish in UK waters, the vessel can sail and engage in fishing activities in those waters.  



At this stage, the licencing is limited to the fishing in the EEZ of the UK. This will allow the continuity of the activities of the large majority of the EU fleets. Vessels that receive a (temporary) licence to fish in the 12-200 nm waters have no right to enter the 6-12 nm zone until they receive the license to fish in the latter zone.

Detailed information can be obtained from the following resources:

  1. Information from the UK
  2. Information from the European Union
  3. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
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