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Annual Negotiations for 2023 Fishing Opportunities

Volume 725: debated on Tuesday 20 December 2022

Each year, the UK negotiates with the EU, Norway and other coastal states in the north-east Atlantic, and via regional fisheries management organisations, to agree catch opportunities and sustainable management measures for shared stocks, including in international waters.

Successful annual negotiations for2023 fishing opportunities

The UK has now concluded these negotiations and reached agreement with the EU, Norway and other coastal states in the north-east Atlantic on catch opportunities for 2023. Across these negotiations, the UK has secured agreement on 86 TACs—total allowable catches—providing £750 million of potential fishing opportunities.

The UK has also concluded an agreement with Norway for continued access to each other’s waters for 2023, as well an exchange of fishing quota.

The UK Government have worked closely with the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, and the outcomes secured will enable us to improve the sustainable management of our fish stocks and support the whole of the UK fishing industry.

UK-EU agreement

As a result of quota share uplifts agreed in the trade and co-operation agreement, the UK has around 30,000 tonnes more quota from these negotiations than it would have received with its previous shares as an EU member state. The UK has agreed 69 TACs and arrangements for non-quota stocks with the EU for 2023, providing fishing opportunities of more than 140,000 tonnes. In total, this is worth around £282 million, based on historical landing prices.

An initial estimate suggests that the number of TACs that align with scientific advice from ICES—the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea—has increased by 13% compared with last year. This is the largest increase since 2020, when the UK first started using this metric. The Government will publish shortly a full assessment of the number of TACs set consistent with ICES advice across all annual negotiations.

For 2023, we have also agreed access arrangements on albacore tuna and spurdog in the North sea for the first time through the UK-EU written record.

For NQS—non-quota stocks—we agreed a roll-over of access arrangements for 2023 to ensure continued access for the UK fleet to fish NQS worth around £25 million per year in EU waters. This is alongside further flexibility for seabass management measures within the ICES advice.

UK-EU-Norway trilateral negotiations

The UK has also reached agreement with Norway and the EU on catch limits for 2023 for six stocks, worth over £202 million to the UK fishing industry in the North sea and a further £11 million in other waters around the UK, based on historical landing prices.

The parties have agreed increases in TACs for five of the six stocks, including North sea cod. They have agreed to a cut in North sea herring. All TACs are at or below the level advised by ICES. For two stocks—haddock and whiting—the parties have agreed to take a more precautionary approach than the scientific advice to avoid risks to the recovery of North sea cod, given the close interactions between the stocks, and set a 30% increase on each.

The parties renewed their commitment to deliver long-term management plans for their shared stocks, and have agreed to develop new and more effective management measures for the North sea herring fishery, focusing on stability for industry and sustainability.

The parties have also agreed to continue building on the work undertaken this year on monitoring, control and surveillance of their shared stocks.

UK-Norway bilateral negotiations

The UK has agreed with Norway on continuing to allow vessels to access our respective waters for demersal fisheries, as well as exchanges of quota worth around £5 million to the UK fleet. UK vessels will be able to fish their North sea whitefish quotas, such as hake and cod, in Norwegian waters, up to a total of 30,000 tonnes. We have also agreed to reciprocal access for herring, up to 20,000 tonnes. On exchanges, we secured around £3 million worth of North sea quota from Norway—including valuable stocks such as monkfish—together with around £2 million-worth of stocks in Arctic waters. This complements over 5,200 tonnes of cod in waters around Svalbard, worth an estimated £10 million, that Norway has allocated to the UK under a separate arrangement.

The mutual access will also allow respective fleets more flexibility to target the stocks in the best condition throughout the fishing year, supporting a more sustainable and economically viable fishing industry.

Multilateral coastal state negotiations

The UK has agreed TACs at the level advised by ICES on the three stocks we share with other coastal states in the north-east Atlantic: mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring—ASH. The opportunities will be worth over £250 million to the UK fleet in 2023.

The UK has also chaired negotiations throughout 2022 on a new quota-sharing arrangement for mackerel. These negotiations are making steady progress, and the UK remains committed to securing a fair, sustainable and comprehensive sharing arrangement. Negotiations will resume in early 2023, with an aim of concluding them by 31 March, alongside parallel discussions to agree new quota-sharing arrangements for blue whiting and ASH.