All four nations within the UK will be given greater power to manage their own fishing quotas following an agreement that has just been reached, Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon announced today.
Under the agreement, the UK, Scottish and Welsh Government, and the Northern Ireland Executive will each be allocated shares, agreed annually, of UK fish quotas for distribution to their fleets. These will be based on the number of boats in each area and the quota they already receive. However, there will be no permanent split of UK quota; fishing vessels will be free to move their operations to other parts of the UK.
The new arrangements will replace the present system where the UK Government allocates quota directly to fishermen and to fish producer organisations that manage quotas. This will allow each country to adapt quota allocations to best suit fleets in different parts of the UK.
Arrangements for the licensing and administration of fishing vessels will also be clearer as a result of the agreement, and arrangements for the management of the UK’s fishing effort (“days at sea”) under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan will be formalised.
Richard Benyon, UK Fisheries Minister, said:
“By giving each nation greater control of quotas we will all be able to be more flexible on how quota is allocated to individual boats. This will enable the UK to move quota around to where it is needed and as a result we hope to see a reduction in discards.
“This agreement will also make it easier to manage fisheries across the UK and is a significant step forward for the fishing industry.
“I have consistently argued for the greater decentralisation of powers and I will continue to press the case for this during our negotiations with the EU on CFP reform.”
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:
“I welcome this agreement. It is a good step forward that allows administrations to advance the interests of their fleets and communities.
“Scotland’s diverse fleet catches over two thirds of the UK’s quotas and makes a crucial contribution to the Scottish economy and the success of our coastal communities.
“The flexibility that this agreement offers will provide new opportunities to better support our vital fishing communities, developing solutions through co-management with our fishing industry. The Scottish Government also reiterates our commitment to meeting our international obligations.”
Alun Davies, Welsh Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, said:
“I am pleased that we have now reached an agreement on the UK Fisheries Concordat that will enable Wales to meet its policy priorities to fully manage its fishing fleet and fishing opportunities.
“There is still work to be undertaken following agreement of the Concordat, before we can implement these changes, and we will be working with the Devolved Administrations over the coming months to make this happen.”
Michelle O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, said:
“I am pleased that the four Fisheries Administrations have come to an agreement on the future management of quota and licensing which can accommodate the individual needs and policy priorities that each have for the development of their fishing fleets.
“There is still work to be done and I welcome the commitment to strengthen the economic link license condition and the setting up of a Register of FQA holdings which I hope will make quota trading between fisheries organisations more transparent and efficient.”
The details of the concordat are available on our website: www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2012/05/18/pb13771-fish-concordat/
For more information on the management of fisheries go to: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/marine/manage/