The UK has reached agreements with the EU and Norway, and wider coastal states, to secure valuable fishing opportunities for 2023

The UK has reached agreements with the EU and Norway, and wider coastal states, to secure valuable fishing opportunities for 2023

The UK has reached agreements with the EU and Norway, and wider coastal states, to secure valuable fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry.

The UK has secured fishing catch limits worth £202 million to the UK fishing industry, a £33 million increase from last year, after reaching an agreement with Norway and the EU, Defra has announced today (Friday 9 December).

Negotiating as an independent coastal State, the UK agreed catch levels for 2023 for six important fish stocks in the North Sea including North Sea cod, haddock and herring.

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This comes as the UK also concluded negotiations on catch limits with coastal States in the North East Atlantic on three more key stocks to the UK fishing fleet – blue whiting, mackerel and atlanto-Scandian herring. In total, UK quota in these stocks will be worth around £256m to the UK fishing industry next year.

Sustainability has been at the heart of the UK’s approach to these negotiations, pushing for decisions based on the best science available to ensure key fish stocks are protected and to support the long-term viability of the UK fishing industry. All catch levels were set in line with, or lower than, the level advised by scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:

I’m pleased we have reached agreements with the EU and Norway, and wider coastal states, to secure important fish stocks worth over £450 million for the UK fishing fleet in 2023.

The deals will help support a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for years to come while continuing to protect our marine environment and vital fishing grounds.

The catch levels agreed for North Sea stocks for 2023 (compared to 2022) are:

  • Cod +63%
  • Haddock +30%
  • Herring -7.3%
  • Plaice +5.8%
  • Saithe +18.7%
  • Whiting +30%

Last month, the UK reached an agreement with Norway, with the UK fleet benefiting from fishing opportunities worth £5 million. Further talks with the EU are continuing over the total allowable catches and other stock management measures

Throughout the negotiations, the UK Government worked closely with the devolved administrations to ensure that fishing communities across the UK will benefit from the agreement.

An assessment on the number of individual Total Allowable Catches set consistent with ICES advice will be published on the conclusion of the UK’s annual fisheries negotiations.

Reacting to today’s deal between the UK and the EU and Norway on fish catches for 2023, and particularly the 63% increase in North Sea cod quota, Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Simon Collins said:

“This is absolute vindication for skippers who have always argued that swingeing cuts to cod quotas in recent years were excessive relative to the abundance of the stock seen on the grounds.

“Deficiencies in stock assessment processes are finally being addressed, and the science is now catching up with reality, proving that fishermen have had the right of it. Today’s announcement gives lie to the notion propagated by eNGOs that cod stocks are facing ‘extinction’, or that fish stocks in our seas are in poor shape – when in fact the opposite is true.

“The agreed quota increases also announced today for other species such as haddock, saithe and whiting mean a more viable future for Shetland’s family-owned fishing fleet, on which the well-being of our whole wider community depends.”

Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the SFF, said: “In addition to the agreement already reached between the UK and Norway on fishing opportunities for 2023, SFF welcomes the three-way agreement reached this week between the UK, Norway and the EU on total allowable catches (TACs) for the six jointly managed stocks in the North Sea. 

“It is heartening that the fisheries managers’ decisions reflect ICES’s very positive scientific advice on shared demersal stocks and in particular, a 63% increase in the TAC for North Sea cod. This vindicates industry’s view that the huge cuts suffered by our fleet over the last three years were not justified. We look forward to a full review of the North Sea cod assessment through the ICES benchmark process early in 2023, and to a future where fishermen’s knowledge and expertise can play a meaningful role in stock assessments and catch advice. 

“This has been a very busy spell for our negotiating teams from Scottish and UK governments, and we are grateful for their sustained efforts to secure good outcomes for the Scottish industry. Their work isn’t over yet however, as some negotiations remain ongoing and there are further talks on key pelagic stocks that will continue into next year.”

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“It is good to see the action that has been taken to protect North Sea stocks in recent years paying off, leading the way to increased access for Scotland’s fishers.

“These stocks are of key commercial importance to Scotland and the increase in cod is a result of Scottish fishers’ efforts on recovery.

“The success of those efforts is reflected in the latest scientific advice, which has permitted significantly greater catches than last year.

“That is good news for Scotland’s fishers, who will have access to considerably greater whitefish quotas this year, with a positive economic effect for our fishing communities.”


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UK reaches agreement with EU and Norway on key fish stocks for 2023

by editor time to read: 8 min