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UK to use ‘zonal attachment’ as basis for EU negotiations

“Because the fish is in our waters then this seems a credible way to proceed with these negotiations” - UK fisheries minister Mark Spencer

“We believe that the coastal states’ quota share should be largely influenced and determined by the presence of the fish in our waters” - Senior DEFRA official Colin Faulkner

An article in this week’s Fishing News (see below / attached) reports that Zonal Attachment will likely make up the basis for the UK’s negotiations with the EU in June 2026.

As reported in a recent IFSA article, ‘Zonal Attachment’, defined as ‘Quotas, or catch shares, should correspond to the share of the fish stock biomass present within a country's Exclusive Economic Zone’, has in the past been an acceptable claim to the EU Commission in quota talks with several of its member states and it was even used by Norway, Iceland and Faroes when setting themselves mackerel quotas far above ICES’ advice - - but this system was thrown out the window by the EU Commission when Ireland tried to make the same claim during Brexit to defend the quotas in their own waters and that claim rejection resulted in the Irish industry losing over 15% of its quota in EU ‘payback’ to the UK while the most any other EU member state suffered was 6%.

And now, after dismissing the notion of zonal attachment in Irish, but geographically British Isles’ waters, it looks likely that the same EU Commission will be prepared to do business with the UK in terms of zonal attachment for UK British Isles waters….

The UK is naturally well within its rights to play the zonal attachment card but this once again raises the question of the EU Fisheries Commission being selective in its decisions on when and where to apply certain criteria and when to totally ignore some cases, such as Ireland during Brexit, when clearly injustices have been carried out to the sufferance of Ireland but to the benefit of certain other EU nations.

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