The European Council has approved the EU-UK fisheries agreement for 2023 between the EU and the UK, and certain deep-sea stocks for 2023/24

The European Council has approved the EU-UK fisheries agreement for 2023 between the EU and the UK, and certain deep-sea stocks for 2023/24

The Council approved an agreement on fishing opportunities for 2023 between the EU and the United Kingdom, as well as for certain deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024, securing the fishing rights of EU fishers in the Atlantic and the North Sea, and providing them with stability ahead of the coming fishing season.

Zdeněk Nekula, Czech Minister of Agriculture said, “I warmly welcome the successful conclusion of this year’s consultations on shared fish stocks with the UK ahead of the new year. This agreement guarantees certainty and stability for our fishers, protecting their fishing rights in the Atlantic and the North Sea for 2023.”

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The agreement determines fishing rights for around 100 shared fish stocks in EU and UK waters, including the total allowable catch (TAC) limit for each species for 2023, as well as for certain deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024. This agreement further marks the final step in the annual process of setting fishing opportunities in EU and non-EU waters for 2023, and for certain deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024. At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11-12 December, ministers agreed on provisional TACs for fish stocks shared with the UK, pending final agreement. These provisional catch limits will now be amended to reflect the final agreement with the UK.

For stocks with no ICES advice, the EU and the UK agreed to work together to improve the availability of data to inform future scientific advice. On stocks with zero catch advice, delegations agreed that it would be appropriate to establish specifics TACs for by-catches for those stocks. The level of these TACs has been set to ensure that fishing mortality does not increase and that the stock can be rebuilt.

In line with scientific advice, a decrease to the previous year’s TACs was agreed with the UK for the following populations:

  • common sole: -39% in the North Sea, -23% in the Irish Sea, -27% in the West of Ireland and -23% in the Western English Channel
  • haddock: -32% in Rockhall, -22% in the West of Ireland, the Bay of Biscay, Portuguese waters and Azores Grounds, and -14% in the Irish Sea
  • herring: -66% in Faroe Grounds and Rockhall, -39% in the Irish Sea and -40% in the Western English Channel and the Bristol Channel
  • horse mackerel: -78% in the North Sea, the West of Scotland, the Irish Sea, the West of Ireland, the Porcupine Bank, the Western English Channel, the Bristol Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Southwest of Ireland. The same decrease will apply in the Norwegian Sea, Faroe Grounds, the North of Azores and in Greenland
  • plaice: -79% in the Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea, -32% in the Eastern and Western English Channel, and -26% in the Irish Sea

The EU and the UK also agreed to increase the TACs compared to the previous year for the following stocks:

  • cod: +63% in the Eastern English Channel
  • greater silver smelt: +36% in Barents and Norwegian Sea
  • megrims: +17% in the Irish Sea
  • Norway lobster: +12% in the West of Scotland and Faroe Grounds
  • plaice by-catches: +16% in the Celtic Sea and the Southwest of Ireland
  • whiting by-catches: +43% in the West of Scotland, Faroe Grounds, North of Azores and Greenland

For deep-sea stocks, the EU and the UK agreed to set the TAC for roundnose grenadier for 2023 only, ahead of a possible in-year amendment. Similarly, delegations share the view that scientific information for western red seabream needs to improve. As a result, they agreed to set the TAC for 2023 only, to monitor actual catches in 2023 and take into account the effectiveness of the measures in reducing unwanted bycatches when determining whether a TAC reduction remains appropriate for 2024. The EU and the UK additionally agreed to set the TAC for black scabbardfish for 2023 only, in order to revisit it during the consultations for 2024 and reflect any agreed TAC split.

The regulation on fishing opportunities for 2023 and, for certain deep-sea stocks, for 2023 and 2024 – including the amendment containing the final quotas – will be finalised by the Council’s legal and linguistic experts, following which it will be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal by end of January 2023. The provisions will apply retroactively as of 1 January 2023.

 

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European Council approves EU-UK fisheries agreement for 2023

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