Clarity on quotas
Stability over quota allocations for fisheries industry.
The way fisheries quotas are allocated will remain unchanged once the devolution of new fisheries powers is confirmed, Rural Economy Fergus Ewing has announced.
Speaking at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Dinner, Mr Ewing confirmed his intention to provide the industry with stability by maintaining existing allocations through the Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) system.
The Scottish Government will also work to make it easier for new businesses to acquire smaller bundles of quota allocation units.
The need to reach agreement on a new fisheries management Concordat with the other three UK fisheries administrations means it has only now been possible for the Scottish Government to finalise plans, following the consultation on quota allocations in 2014.
Once Scotland receives new powers in the Concordat, expected shortly, it will put in place rules that only allow quotas to move from a Scottish to a non-Scottish licence when Scottish vessels permanently move to operate in another part of the UK.
Mr Ewing said:
“In the face of uncertainty and a lack of leadership from the UK Government, I can confirm that by maintaining fisheries quotas we will provide much-needed stability. We believe this is the right way to encourage investment in new vessels and ensure the sustainability of the sector.
“This underlines why we must have new powers over our share of UK quotas. We cannot tolerate a situation where our quotas can be exported out of Scotland, and ultimately lost to future generations.
“The new Concordat, which I hope to see published soon, will enhance our control and ensure we can protect quotas
“Fishermen have made their opposition to EU membership known, but as Scotland’s fishing champion it’s important I voice my concerns about the consequences of leaving the EU, and losing both a market and a source of vital funding. The sector also relies hugely on thousands of EU workers who need certainty that they are welcome to stay here.
“Our priority continues to be pursuing all options to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU as nearly half a billion pounds worth of seafood is exported to Europe and I am committed to ensuring our interests are at the heart of any Brexit decisions or discussions about fishing.”
A more detailed response to the quota consultation will follow once the powers in the new Concordat are in effect.
Fish quotas are allocated to the UK as part of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Individual UK countries have devolved management responsibility over their share of UK quotas, and for the management of fishing vessels registered at ports in their territory.
Fish quotas are allocated by the Scottish Government (and the other UK Administrations) according to the FQA system, which allocates quota to vessels and others based on the number of allocation units for a given fish quota stock held on a fishing licence. For example, a fishermen with 1% of the units for a stock will in general receive 1% of the available quota.