Challenging outcome for fisheries
£440 million deal at annual negotiations.
An additional £44 million of fishing opportunities will be available to Scotland’s industry following the outcome of the annual negotiations in Brussels.
The overall £440 million package includes strong increases of 38% for North Sea whiting, 20% for monkfish, 22% for North Sea Norway lobster and 26% for west of Scotland haddock.
Encouragingly nine of the 13 stocks the Scottish Government measures its sustainability performance against have been set in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for 2018, which is the highest possible annual catch that can be sustained over time by keeping the stock at the level producing maximum growth - an increase from 62% in 2017.
An important gain in terms of addressing a major potential choke species under the landing obligation was a new geographic flexibility provision for ling. This will help the industry deal with shortfalls in the North Sea by allowing them to transfer up to 15% of quota from the west of Scotland if needed. This is in addition to a 10% increase in the total allowable catch limit for the North Sea which will provide additional relief to quota shortages.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“At these challenging negotiations we have secured a strong result for Scotland’s fishermen, with deals worth more than £440 million to the industry and crucial increases for many of our key species.
“Compared to 2017 this is an extra £44 million of fishing opportunities which means our industry will go into 2018 in strong health. I am also pleased that we received more flexibilities for ling, which will prevent our vessels from being tied up early when there is sufficient quota elsewhere.
“However I am frustrated that the European Commission was unwilling to accept any of our proposals on Cod and Norway lobster that would have assisted vessels operating on the west coast of Scotland.
“Brexit has loomed large over this year’s negotiations. Now that these deals have been confirmed we will continue to seek real assurances from the UK Government that they will not trade access to Scottish waters away to secure other interests in the Brexit negotiations. We cannot and will not accept Scottish fishing interests being put at risk.”
The estimates are based on 2016 published prices.
December Council is the culmination of all the end year negotiations where everything is finalised. The actual stocks under negotiation at this Council are known as internal stocks fished only by the EU fleet, such as monkfish, west coast saithe, west coast whiting, megrim, skates and rays, west coast haddock, plaice, sole and Norway lobster commonly known as Nephrops (prawns).
At the Council each member state, and then Scotland as part of the UK, is allocated quotas for each stock – this caps the amount the industry is able to fish for each stock. The quotas look to balance scientific advice and the need for sustainable fishing, with economic interests.
The overall £440 million package also includes outcomes from the Coastal States, EU/Norway and EU/Faroe negotiations.