Fisheries are the exclusive competence of the European Union (EU), while responsibility for environmental law is shared between the EU and its member states. This makes it difficult for the EU to enforce environmental law against the EU common fisheries policy (CFP; there is no easy EU legal mechanism. Member states manage their own fleets and the distribution of quota via fishing vessel licences. UK sea fisheries legislation is subject to both the CFP and EU
environmental legislation. Article 6 (3) of the Habitats Directive EC 92/43/EEC ensure that no plan or project should be authorised by competent authority if it significantly effects a Natura 2000 site without an appropriate assessment. There are numerous marine Natura 2000 sites in United Kingdom waters. It is likely that issuing a fishing vessel licence is a plan or project. There is evidence that
fishing authorized by these fishing vessel licences has significant effects on a number of United Kingdom Natura 2000 sites and their designated features. There has been very few if any appropriate assessments carried out on fishing vessel licences. There is therefore a strong argument that the United Kingdom is in breach of its obligations under the EU Directive.
Appleby, T., & Solandt, J. (2011, September). The habitats directive and fisheries administration: An immovable object meets and irresistible force?. Paper presented at World Conference on Marine Biodiversity