New UK fisheries management system agreed

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Fisheries Administrations in the UK have today announced the agreement of a new ‘Concordat’ on the management of the UK’s fish quotas and licences.

Under the terms of the new Concordat, The UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Executive will each be allocated annually agreed shares of UK quotas for distribution to their fleets.

These allocations will as now be based on Fixed Quota Allocation Units (FQAs).  There will, however, be no permanent split of UK quota and fishing vessels will continue to be free to move their operations to another part of the UK.    

The new arrangements will replace the present system where the UK Government allocates quota directly to fishermen and to organisations that manage quota (‘Fish Producer Organisations’).

This will allow the four countries to adapt management arrangements to best suit fleets in different parts of the UK.

The Concordat also rationalises arrangements for the licensing and administration of fishing vessels, and formalises existing arrangements for the management of the UK’s fishing effort (“days at sea”) under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:

“This agreement represents a step forward that allows Fisheries 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.”

Richard Benyon, UK Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, 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.”

Michelle O’Neill MLA, 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.”

Alun Davies, Welsh Government 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.”