I'm trying to figure out if the UK 2018 Fisheries bill amendment (if it even exists) has any practical implications for quotas or is basically declarative. As reported in the Express:

The Environment Secretary will introduce new legal obligations to ensure British fishermen have better fishing opportunities when the UK leaves the EU. British ministers will now be legally obliged to negotiate a better fishing deal with the EU than it has under the Common Fisheries Policy. Officials say the amendment will “enshrine [the Government’s] commitment to secure a fairer share of fishing opportunities for UK fishermen”.

Last night, Mr Gove said: “We are taking back control of our waters and will secure a fairer share of fishing opportunities for the whole of the UK fishing industry as we leave the EU.

“The amendment to the Fisheries Bill will give legal weight to this commitment.”

Mr Gove also announced £37.2 million extra funding to boost UK's fishing industry.

Ok so more subsidies for UK fishermen is clear. But how can the law force a better deal? I mean, the same ministers are in power now presumably, so they don't need a law to force themselves to negotiate a better deal. Is this so they can tell the EU: look we have a red line written in law? Would the EU care about this kind of argument? (E.g. were such arguments successful in the past in negotiations with the EU?) Or is this bill entirely for UK domestic consumption?

1 Answer 1


The article seems to be referring to the Fisheries Bill, currently before Parliament.

The bill has completed its committee stage, and will now be sent for report to the Commons, before third reading and consideration by the Lords.

The amendment in question would appear to be that put down by Richard Benyon and others, which states:

Clause 1, page 1, line 2, at end insert—


Every public authority to which this section applies must exercise its functions in order to achieve the fisheries objectives”

Members are able to write a short explanatory statement to accompany the amendment:

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment would place a legal duty on any public authority with any function related to fisheries to achieve the objectives. Without this duty objectives are established but with no clear obligation for authorities to deliver them.

This amendment is apparently to clarify and create a legal duty for the government to attempt to deliver the objectives of the bill. This amendment has cross-party support (Zac Goldsmith and Ben Bradshaw (Lab) are co-sponsors with Richard Benyon (Con)) and so is likely to become law.

The rest of the article is Michael Gove's and the Express's spin. Of course an Act of Parliament cannot force a "better" deal. But an act of Parliament can compel ministers to act to achieve certain objectives. As Gove says, this act adds "legal weight" to these objectives.

But it might be noted that the objectives are not "a better deal for Britain" but actually more complex. There are 6 objectives:

Sustainability, precautionary, ecosystem, scientific evidence, discards, and equal access

The bill gives some definitions (which I won't post here for concision) and much discussion at length in committee about the nature of these objectives and the potential for the objectives to be contradictory.

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