Trilateral fisheries negotiations between UK, EU and Norway have concluded, with the deal including increased quotas for most North Sea stocks.
The agreement sets out Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and management measures for North Sea cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, plaice and herring.
The deal reflects the advice of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which has been able to recommend increased catch sizes following action to improve North Sea stocks.
Negotiations on catch limits with coastal States in the North East Atlantic on mackerel, blue whiting, and Atlanto-Scandian herring have also concluded.
The agreement also underlines the importance of continuing discussions in early 2023 to agree new comprehensive sharing arrangements for these stocks.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:
“It is good to see the action that has been taken to protect North Sea stocks in recent years paying off, leading the way to increased access for Scotland’s fishers.
“These stocks are of key commercial importance to Scotland and the increase in cod is a result of Scottish fishers' efforts on recovery.
“The success of those efforts is reflected in the latest scientific advice, which has permitted significantly greater catches than last year.
“That is good news for Scotland’s fishers, who will have access to considerably greater whitefish quotas this year, with a positive economic effect for our fishing communities.”
The value to Scotland of the trilateral deal is estimated to be £128m, up from £97m last year.
The changes to the stocks are agreed as follows:
2023 Total Allowable Catch (change from 2022)
21,652 tonnes (+63%)
58,402 tonnes (+30%)
34,294 tonnes (+30%)
53,374 tonnes (+19%)
132,922 tonnes (+6%)
Herring (A Fleet)
396,556 tonnes (-7%)
Coastal States consultations concluded with agreement on 2023 catch limits for shared pelagic stocks and control measures for pelagic stocks in the North-East Atlantic to ensure consistency between the Parties on control and enforcement of the stocks.
For all three Coastal State stocks, the TACs were set in line with advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), equating to the following tonnage and changes compared with the catch limits set for 2022:
782,066 tonnes (-1.62%)
1,359,629 tonnes (+80.62%)
511,171 tonnes (-14.60%)
New comprehensive sharing arrangements for these stocks remains a key priority for Scotland.
While Scotland strongly advocated for the TAC for blue whiting to be set at a more precautionary level, in line with TAC constraint principles, this outcome reflects the strong positions of the other Coastal States to the stock. A unilateral statement is included in the Agreed Record, which highlights the UK position that the preference would have been for a more precautionary level, and that Parties should seek mechanisms to ensure greater stability in the stock going forward.
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The Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups (RIFGs) aim to improve the management of inshore fisheries in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Scottish waters, and to give commercial inshore fishermen a strong voice in wider marine management developments.