Marine and fisheries: exiting the EU

Marine and fisheries Information about exiting the European Union.


The UK's withdrawal from the European Union will lead to some of the most significant changes to the UK, and Scotland, political and economic landscape in decades. Although relations with the European Union are a reserved matter, the consequences of leaving the EU will be felt in a large range of devolved areas, and the Scottish Government therefore has a critical role in ensuring that the devolved settlement is protected and that Scotland's national interests are secured.


Live Bivalve Molluscs, such as cockles, mussels and oysters, which have been harvested from either unclassified, or non-class A waters which cannot be verified by certifying officers, as fit for human consumption at the point of export, cannot be exported to the EU or NI as there is a permanent barrier to trade, and cannot be provided with an EHC.

The Seafood Producers Resilience Fund will provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers who have faced issues exporting to the EU and have lost access to domestic food markets as a result of COVID-19. The scheme was announced by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing on 3 February. 

Fish Export Service

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) launched the Fish Export Service (FES) in November 2020. The latest changes to the Fish Export Service will allow users the ability to void and clone export catch certificates significantly reducing the time it takes to create replacement export documents, while a summer update is expected to include refined flows through FES (moving from the current linear approach to a checklist-based interface), increased and expanded clone functionality to cover processing statements and storage documents, and enhancements relating to the uploading of landing data. More information on the FES is available.

IMO Numbers

If your vessel is 100 gross tons or above, or is 12 metres long or more, you will have to have an IMO number to fish in EU waters. To find out how to obtain an IMO number and register it with the Single Issuing Authority, please visit the UK Government website.

Guidance if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

The UK has left the EU with a deal but you still need to be aware of new requirements that the EU applies to all third-party countries – which now includes the UK after exit. Please continue to consider any steps you may need. There are leaflets below to help you understand what you need to do if any of the fish that you catch is exported to the EU, either by yourself or by the agent/processor you sell your catch to.

In addition, DEFRA has recently published information on:

For more information on how Brexit may affect your business visit the find business support website

EORI Numbers

In addition, to be able to export seafood to the EU, you will need to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. The process is quick and easy and can be done by visiting the UK Government website.

Advice for fishers

These guidelines are to assist the industry in understanding the additional regulatory requirements resulting from the UK
leaving the EU without an agreement. It will still be necessary for UK vessel Masters and owners to comply with all other regulatory legislative and reporting requirements in addition to licence conditions.

Individuals should consult with the full regulations regarding Catch Certificate reporting requirements. They can be found in Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 with detailed implementing rules being contained in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009.

Catch Certificates are not required for some ‘fishery products’ when importing into the EU.

Excluded fishery products are:

  • Freshwater fishery products
  • Aquaculture products obtained from fry or larvae
  • Ornamental fish
  • Some mollusc species and presentations including oysters, scallops and mussels.

We advise you to speak to the relevant contacts in your supply chain to confirm understanding and requirements.

Summary of EU Exit preparedness stakeholder meetings

In the build up to EU Exit, Marine Scotland and Food and Drink divisions in the Scottish Government undertook a whole range of events with seafood exporting businesses - and other interested stakeholders - focusing on the regulations, requirements and practical stages that exporting businesses will need to complete to be able to continue to export to the EU. In March and April 2019, 48 exporting businesses were met, in person, throughout Scotland including: Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Scrabster, Skye, Ullapool, Lochinver, Kinlochbervie, Shetland, Mallaig, Clyde, Western Isles and Anstruther.

In October 2019, after the exit day was extended to October 31 2019, there were EU Exit roadshows jointly hosted with Marine Scotland and Food & Drink with further attendance from Seafish, Animal Plant Health Agency, Local Authorities and Scottish Enterprise.

Marine and Seafood Stakeholder Group page


When the UK leaves the EU (European Union), there will be some laws and regulations that will no longer apply or work properly. And although Scotland voted to remain in the EU, as a responsible government the Scottish Government must prepare for EU exit. As such, the Scottish government is working alongside the UK government to develop legislation to ensure a functioning statute book and prepare for the UK's new position as a non-EU member. This is done through correcting EU laws and regulations, and some domestic legislation to ensure it all still works properly in a UK only context.

In some cases, the Scottish Government will make laws or regulations for Scotland only to replace certain EU laws. These regulations are called Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs).  In other cases, the UK Government will make a Statutory Instrument (SI) which will cover all parts of the UK, including Scotland. When that happens, the Scottish Government must prepare a Protocol Notification to the the Scottish Parliament notifying the Scottish Parliament of its intention to consent to devolved matters being included in the Statutory Instrument. The relevant Parliamentary Committee will then scrutinise Scottish Ministers’ intention to consent. 

Notifications are being prepared for each policy area and describe the legislation impacted, the nature of the deficiencies, the proposed corrections and why these are necessary in the event there is no deal with the EU

So far there have been 4 SSIs and 5 SIs laid in relation to marine fisheries legislation and EU exit.

Public notices

The Scottish Government must prepare a document notifying the Scottish Parliament of its intention to consent to devolved matters being included in the Statutory Instrument (SI).

Protocol Notifications for EU Exit Statutory Instruments to the Scottish Parliament

These notifications to the Scottish Parliament under the Protocol seek the approval of the Scottish Parliament to the exercise of powers by UK Ministers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in relation to proposals within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. It explains the corrections to deficiencies in legislation (which will result from EU Exit) which are being legislated for through a UK Statutory Instrument.

Under the terms of the protocol, Scottish Government must prepare a document notifying the Scottish Parliament of its intention to consent to devolved matters being included in the Statutory Instrument. The relevant Parliamentary Committee will then scrutinise Scottish Ministers’ intention to consent.

These notifications have been prepared for each of the main UK Exit SIs which affect fisheries and marine policy areas and describe the legislation impacted, the nature of the deficiencies, the proposed corrections, and why the changes to regulations are necessary.  Further notifications, in which Marine Scotland has a partial interest, have also been prepared but are not listed here.  All notifications will form part of the papers of the relevant parliamentary committees.  

For further information, please contact Owen Griffiths. 

Further support


The Scottish Government seeks to ensure that this guidance is up-to-date and accurate. However, requirements may change. You should consider seeking professional advice before making specific preparations. This guidance does not constitute legal or professional advice and we cannot accept liability for actions arising from its use. The Scottish Government is not responsible for the content of pages referenced by external links.