The Isle of Man has entered a new era in fisheries management, marking a significant milestone in its autonomy over how its sea fishery resources are managed.

It follows the introduction of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) involving the Isle of Man, UK, Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish Governments last week.

The MoU means the Fisheries Management Agreement (FMA) 2012 has been revoked and replaced, redefining the landscape of fisheries governance within Manx waters.

The FMA2012 became critically out-of-date when the UK left the European Union (EU) and withdrew from both the London Fisheries Convention 1964 and the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP); however, the Department continued to adhere to the principles of FMA 2012 following the UK’s exit from the EU CFP to allow time for new arrangements to be established.


Photo by James Qualtrough


Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) said: “It’s a significant step forward for the Isle of Man that will empower the Isle of Man Government to shape local fisheries policies, while fostering collaborative relationships with neighbouring administrations and ensuring the Island upholds its international obligations.”

The MoU is a departure from previous agreements by recognising the Island’s autonomy to develop any aspect of sea fisheries policy within its waters.

The original FMA was established 32 years ago after the extension of the Isle of Man’s territorial sea from three to 12 nautical miles, which necessitated the concurrence of the UK Government for any alterations to fisheries management in the Island’s extended waters.

This arrangement was replaced in 2012 with a deal that allowed the Isle of Man to implement its own changes following consultation, but generally meant it had to align with the UK’s approach under the EU Common Fisheries Policy, rendering the Isle of Man a ‘rule-taker’ in most areas of fisheries management.

Details of the MoU

The MoU is a non-legally binding document that covers the following policy areas at a high level, reflecting both the constitutional autonomy of the Department and the UK’s status as an independent coastal state post-Brexit:

  • Context (the constitutional and legal arrangements relevant to fisheries management)
  • International Obligations
  • Fishing Opportunities (catch quota and effort quota for ‘international’ fish stocks)
  • Access and licensing of British fishing boats
  • Introducing new management measures
  • Emergency conservation measures

The MoU will be reviewed annually by the Department and the four UK Administrations. You can read and download the MoU here.

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