A mechanism needs to be agreed to share data on EU catches in UK waters
The United Kingdom has yet to agree a mechanism with the European Union which will allow Defra access to what the EU fleet is catching in UK waters.
Since 01 January this year, when the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into being, the UK has issued licences to EU Member States for their fleets but do not know “comprehensively” how much fish is being taken from UK waters by EU fishing vessels because the UK does not have in place a system which allows Defra access to EU data on how much their fleet is catching in UK waters.
The TCA has allowed a transitional period for fisheries where total allowable catches have been set at 25% of 2020 quotas for the first quarter of 2021, but no agreement was put in place for the mandatory exchange of landing data between the two blocs over this period. The fisheries framework agreement allows for the continued exchange of data, but the exchange and processing procedure of this data has yet to be agreed between the UK and the EU.
The news of this was revealed last week when Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)put the written question to the UK’s Fisheries Minister:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what quantities of each species of fish have been caught by vessels on the EU Vessels List in (a) Scottish waters, (b) English waters, (c) Welsh waters and (d) Northern Irish waters since 1 January 2021?”
Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis replied:
“The UK does not currently have access to a comprehensive feed of all data covering volumes of fish caught in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone by EU registered fishing vessels. The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides the framework for continued data exchange and we are currently engaged in ongoing technical conversations with the European Commission to rapidly establish a mechanism to allow sharing of this data moving forward.”
It is believed that the UK will receive the data on catches in UK waters for the first quarter of 2021 when a sharing mechanism has been established.