Fisheries talks conclude with a UK, EU and Norway agreement for fish stock in the North Sea
Trilateral fisheries negotiations between UK, EU and Norway have concluded, with the deal including increased quotas for most North Sea stocks.
The agreement sets out Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and management measures for North Sea cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, plaice and herring.
The deal reflects the advice of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which has been able to recommend increased catch sizes following action to improve North Sea stocks.
Negotiations on catch limits with coastal States in the North East Atlantic on mackerel, blue whiting, and Atlanto-Scandian herring have also concluded.
The agreement also underlines the importance of continuing discussions in early 2023 to agree new comprehensive sharing arrangements for these stocks.
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.”
The value to Scotland of the trilateral deal is estimated to be £128m, up from £97m last year.
The changes to the stocks are agreed as follows:
Stock 2023 Total Allowable Catch (change from 2022)
- Cod 21,652 tonnes (+63%)
- Haddock 58,402 tonnes (+30%)
- Whiting 34,294 tonnes (+30%)
- Saithe 53,374 tonnes (+19%)
- Plaice 132,922 tonnes (+6%)
- Herring (A Fleet) 396,556 tonnes (-7%)
Coastal States consultations concluded with agreement on 2023 catch limits for shared pelagic stocks and control measures for pelagic stocks in the North-East Atlantic to ensure consistency between the Parties on control and enforcement of the stocks.
For all three Coastal State stocks, the TACs were set in line with advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), equating to the following tonnage and changes compared with the catch limits set for 2022:
- Mackerel 782,066 tonnes (-1.62%)
- Blue whiting 1,359,629 tonnes (+80.62%)
- Atlanto-Scandian herring 511,171 tonnes (-14.60%)
New comprehensive sharing arrangements for these stocks remains a key priority for Scotland.
While Scotland strongly advocated for the TAC for blue whiting to be set at a more precautionary level, in line with TAC constraint principles, this outcome reflects the strong positions of the other Coastal States to the stock. A unilateral statement is included in the Agreed Record, which highlights the UK position that the preference would have been for a more precautionary level, and that Parties should seek mechanisms to ensure greater stability in the stock going forward.