MPs at a Westminster Hall debate pressed Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer MP over delay in implementing the spurdog quota for English boats

The MMO has issued guidance on the rules for the spurdog fishery for UK-registered fishing vessels.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has issued guidance on the rules for the spurdog fishery for UK-registered fishing vessels.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) recommended the reopening of the Northeast Atlantic spurdog fishery and issued catch limit advice for 2023 and 2024.

As per the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), delegations from the United Kingdom and the European Union met between November and December 2022 to consult on fishing opportunities for 2023, and for certain deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024. The Heads of Delegations agreed to recommend to their respective authorities the fishery arrangements such as Spurdog.

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The UK-EU agreement allows for a Spurdog fishery to commence in UK and EU waters as soon as reasonably practicable in 2023.

Separate total allowable catches have been agreed for the North Sea (UK share 2,781 tonnes) and Western waters (UK share 4,825 tonnes). Quotas have yet to be allocated.

For Spurdog this means the following:

  1. When operating in UK waters
  • The prohibition remains in place to all vessels until UK legislation has been amended (further information on timing will be announced).
  • Until the prohibition is lifted all catches must be discarded.
  • The landing obligation will apply to specimens 100cm or less once the prohibition is lifted.
  • All specimens over 100cm will remain prohibited and must be discarded.
  1. When operating in EU waters
  • The prohibition will be lifted from January 2023 to all vessels.
  • The landing obligation will apply to specimens 100cm or less and any catch limits set must be respected.
  • Specimens over 100cm must be discarded (This will be enforced through licence conditions for UK vessels).
  1. Quotas
  • Allocation methodology for North Sea and Western waters has yet to be determined.
  • Catches taken in EU waters before quota allocations have been made will be deducted from quota once allocations are made.
  • Quotas are expected to be allocated on a precautionary basis directed at bycatch.

Until quotas are allocated fishers should continue to avoid catches where possible.

  1. Catch Reporting
  • As with all species separate catch reports (FARs) must be made for catches from respective EU and UK zones.

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MMO issues guidance on spurdog fishery for UK fishing industry

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