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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

Thinking ahead: Shaping the UK’s maritime future after Brexit

Published: 29 June 2017

The Institute of Maritime Law (IML) and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute’s workshop on June 22, considered the current and potential impact of Brexit on the maritime sectors. Academics from the University of Southampton gave presentations about select legal implications of Brexit, including dispute resolutions; fisheries governance; shipping regulation and international trade.

Presentations were punctuated by breakout sessions which involved discussions between a range of maritime stakeholders. Stakeholders spanned fisheries organisations, maritime civil servants, business and shipping, and representatives from the insurance and legal sectors. The discussions were dynamic and gave participants the chance to air their thoughts, concerns and strategies on the implications of Brexit. The workshop was unique in bringing such a diverse range of maritime stakeholders together with the view to observing commonalities and differences in the required approaches. Some immediate actions to avoid discontinuities in law were identified. However, more challenging was the selection of future policies which, outside the EU, could provide competitive advantages to the UK maritime sector. For all sectors the concern was primarily one of access to talent and markets in competitive terms. In fisheries, where the control of the UK territorial waters was an important parameter in support of Brexit, the need to impose quotas for a sustainable future may necessitate the reduction of allowable quotas in the short term in order to provide for long term sustainability. In addition, historic rights may be in existence for parts of the UK territorial seas, and this may affect the control that can be exercised by the UK government after Brexit.

Stakeholders’ views will be synthesised into the IML’s forthcoming report “UK Maritime Sectors Beyond Brexit”, which is a comprehensive review of the legal implications for the maritime industries following the UK’s departure from the EU and its legal framework of regulations and directives.

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