A European Union Delegation, headed by Thomas Bregeon, a Norwegian Delegation, headed by Ms Ann Kristin Westberg, and a United Kingdom Delegation, headed by Will Francis, met virtually on 23 May 2022 to consult on mutual fisheries relations for sprat in ICES Division 3a and Subarea 4 and Division 2a for 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023.
The Delegations noted that ICES released the advice on sprat in Division 3a and Subarea 4 (Skagerrak, Kattegat and North Sea) on 09 May 2022. Based on its Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach, ICES advises that catches in the Skagerrak, Kattegat and North Sea for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 should be no more than 68,690 tonnes.
The Delegations agreed to apply a split of the TAC between the Skagerrak and Kattegat and the North Sea which would allocate 18.3% of the TAC to the Skagerrak and Kattegat.
The Delegations consequently agreed to establish a TAC for sprat in ICES Division 3.a (Skagerrak and Kattegat) of 12,570 tonnes and in ICES Subarea 4 of 56,120 tonnes for the period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023. This is a decrease of 36% compared to the previous TAC period.
The European Union Delegation notified other Delegations of its intention to rollover the provisions allowing for the transfer of EU quotas from waters of ICES division 3a to United-Kingdom and European Union waters of division 2a and subarea 4, as laid out in Table 4 of the Written Record of fisheries consultations between the United Kingdom and the European Union for 2022.
The Delegations agreed to work in order to increase the quality of the scientific advice for sprat in ICES Division 3a and Subarea 4, both in the short and longer term. For the period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, should surveys undertaken later in 2022 indicate that there may be a significant change in the stock abundance. The delegations agreed to consult further ahead of the 2023 to 2024 annual consultations.
Chief biologist Michael Andersen from the Danish Fisheries Association states that the quota could have been set 110,000 tonnes higher if ICES had not chosen to put an extra layer of caution over the advice compared to how it has been advised previously.
“The agreement between the EU, the UK and Norway is exactly as expected, but we are disappointed with the biological advice on which the agreement is based,” says Michael Andersen.
The sprat is by no means an endangered species. Nevertheless, the counseling has chosen to go with both a waist belt and braces. We are very incomprehensible to this and disappointed, he says.
The sprat quota for the coming year still needs to be approved at a Council of Ministers meeting in the EU, but there are usually no changes in that regard.