Britain to Introduce Bill to End Automatic EU Fishing Rights in U.K. Waters

(Reuters) —
Britain’s Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow delivers the instruments of ratification for Brexit to European Council Secretary General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday. (Reuters/Yves Herman/Pool)

The British government said it will introduce a bill into Parliament on Wednesday for legislation to end automatic rights for European Union vessels to fish in U.K. waters.

Under the Fisheries Bill, Britain will leave the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of the 11-month Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, giving it the power to operate as an independent coastal state.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that would allow Britain to operate its fish stocks sustainably outside the EU.

“In future, access to fish in U.K. waters will be a matter for the U.K. to negotiate and we will decide on the rules that foreign vessels must follow,” it said in a statement.

Regaining control of Britain’s rich fishing waters, a totem for Brexit campaigners, may have repercussions for its much larger financial sector as the EU and Britain negotiate final departure plans.

Hopes were high that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would prioritize the financial sector – Britain’s largest export industry and biggest corporate tax generator – in trade talks. But bank sources told Reuters last week that a push by the EU for fishing access to U.K. waters and London’s stance that it will diverge from EU rules are prompting them to review hard-Brexit plans that could see more jobs than anticipated move to Europe.

A spokesman for Johnson had flagged the fisheries legislation on Monday, saying, “We are going to be taking back control of our own fishing waters. The EU should be in no doubt about our determination on that issue.”

Britain exits the European Union on Jan. 31, heading straight into an 11-month transition period to allow for negotiations on the final shape of the post-Brexit relationship.

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