Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The UK’s first major domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years passed into law. The Fisheries Act 2020 gives the UK full control of its fishing waters for the first time since 1973.

The Fisheries Act will enable the UK to control who fishes in our waters through a new foreign vessel licencing regime and ends the current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters.

Underpinning everything in the Act is a commitment to sustainability, ensuring healthy seas for future generations of fishermen. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations will now develop new fisheries management plans for managing fisheries to benefit the fishing industry and the marine environment.

Healthy fish stocks, with the prospect of further fishing opportunities delivered through international negotiations, will help drive economic growth for coastal communities around the country by making sure the industry can continue to thrive for years to come.

The Act now places the UK on a firm legal footing as the Transition Period ends, with the ability to put in place and enforce new rules to protect our offshore marine protected areas – boosting the government’s Blue Belt of marine protection around England’s coast.

The Fisheries Act will ensure:


  • The UK government and the Devolved Administrations will publish a legally binding Joint Fisheries Statement and develop to coordinate fisheries management plans and achieve sustainability goals
  • EU vessels’ automatic access right to fish in UK waters is removed
  • Foreign boats will be required a licence to fish in UK waters and will have to follow the UK’s rules
  • Fisheries are managed in a sustainable way – balancing social, economic, and social benefits while preventing the over exploitation of fish stocks
  • The UK fisheries administrations will seek to ensure increased benefits from fish caught by UK boats
  • Sensitive marine species, such as dolphins, are protected and the bycatch of unwanted fish reduced
  • UK boats can continue to access any part of UK waters, as they do now regardless, whether they are registered in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • UK administrations can set up new domestic grant schemes, providing funding in new areas and tailored to the needs of their sectors.