Marine Environment News in Brief - January 2021 — Seafish

Marine Environment News in Brief - January 2021

Our monthly marine environment news update for January 2021

UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Fisheries

The objectives and principles for fisheries management are outlined in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It enshrines commitments to sustainable fisheries management and the promotion of long-term environmental, social and economic sustainability; the protection of juvenile and spawning fish; the protection of marine ecosystems; as well as timely cooperation and data sharing to manage conservation and combat illegal fishing.

Read a summary of the EU-UK Trade agreement and the UK’s European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 implementing the agreement on the UK Government website.

Read the text of the UK-EU Agreement on the European Commission website.

Information on exporting and importing fish for human consumption and live animals including bivalves can be read on the UK Government website.

UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Biodiversity protection

The UK-EU Agreement does not allow the UK to revote the EU derived law protecting nature and biodiversity conservation. Under the terms of the deal, it is possible that EU jurisdiction over UK environmental law has been extended. Specifically, the section on the ‘Level playing field for open and fair competition and sustainable development’ for trade and investment indicates that environmental regulation will not be downgraded by either Party to create an economic advantage. This incorporates all aspects of biodiversity and conservation, as well as protection and preservation of the marine and aquatic environments.

Read the text of the UK-EU Agreement on the European Commission website.

Fisheries Act 2020

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries (APPG) has published a digest of the Fisheries Act 2020. This summarises the main areas of the Act, and explains the significance of the eight objectives, the Joint Fisheries Statement, fishing licensing and opportunities, and relevant devolved and reserved responsibilities. Notably, while the Fisheries Act provides the framework for UK fishing policy, much of the specific legislation regarding fisheries management is yet to come.

Read the Fisheries Act Digest on the APPG website.

Fishing Regulations

The Blue Book collates UK and EU laws related to commercial fishing. The information provided has been updated to reflect changes to the legislation and rules applicable from 1 January 2021. This includes the Statutory Instruments amending retained EU legislation, technical measures for the conservation of fisheries resources, as well as the regulations associated with marine environmental protection.

Guidance on the technical conservation and landing obligation (discard ban) regulations for 2021 has also been published.

The Fishing Regulations and Discard Guidance can be read on the UK Government website.

Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020

Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 (SMA2020) provides an up-to-date review of Scotland’s seas. It found that progress is being made to improve the health of Scotland’s seas, including:

  • reducing the levels of nutrients and contaminants;
  • the marine economy is providing significant economic and social benefits to coastal communities while the growth of industries such as offshore wind, wave and tidal energy are of increasing importance to the Scottish economy;
  • Marine Protected Areas and measures to tackle marine litter need more time to be fully effective;
  • climate change is the most critical factor affecting Scotland’s seas, which impacts on coastal flooding, erosion and marine species;
  • collaboration with coastal communities, industries, public authorities and international partners is essential to improve the state of Scotland’s seas.

Access Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 on the Marine Scotland website.

Survey on environmentally friendly fishing gear

The Innovative Fishing Gear for Ocean (INdIGO) project is aiming to develop prototype biodegradable fishing gear and to improve the recycling of existing gear at the end of its life. CEFAS, one of the project partners, would like fishermen to participate in a survey that aims to develop an inventory of the types of plastics currently in use in the fishing and aquaculture sectors, and to identify what might or might not encourage fishermen to adopt biodegradable fishing gear. 

More information on the project and the survey can be found on the INdIGO website.

Ocean Recovery 2021

The Ocean Recovery online conference will focus on the problems of ocean recovery and restoration and explore what we really want from our coastal and marine environment. It runs from 19 to 21 January 2021. It will cover some of the current issues facing the coastal and marine community including fisheries management, marine protected areas and climate change. The full programme can be accessed on the Coastal Futures Website. To attend, register by 5pm on 15 January.


  • 15 January 2021: Scottish Government consultation on how the additional Scottish fish quota is allocated in 2021. 
  • 5 February: Marine Wales monitoring consultation for the Welsh National Marine Plan.
  • 22 February 2021: DAERA consultation on fisheries management measures for MPAs and establishment of scallop enhancement sites in the Northern Ireland inshore region.
  • 22 June 2021: Welsh Government consultation on river basin management plans for Western Wales and the Dee.


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