Science supports increased quotas
Negotiations with the EU and Norway on fishing opportunities for 2024 have now concluded. These agreements set out Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits and management measures for jointly managed stocks.
The UK / EU / Norway trilateral agreement includes quota increases for all six of the jointly managed North Sea stocks: cod, haddock, whiting, plaice, saithe, and herring. This reflects positive advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), with all TACs set at levels consistent with the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach. These opportunities are worth an estimated value to Scotland of £199 million, an increase of £68 million compared to 2023 quotas.
UK / EU bilateral negotiations to set TACs for more than 70 stocks including the North Sea and West of Scotland have also concluded, with an estimated value to Scotland of £194 million. Among the stocks covered by this agreement are North Sea and West of Scotland nephrops, hake, monkfish and ling, as well as Rockall haddock and cod, and West of Scotland whiting and cod.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Mairi Gougeon said:
“These agreements include a number of positive outcomes for Scotland, providing key opportunities to vessels and coastal communities, and building on the successes of last year’s negotiations.
“I am particularly pleased that agreement has been reached to set quotas for North Sea and West of Scotland cod at levels reflective of the latest science. This is the first step in transforming the way in which we manage this iconic stock, and I look forward to the continuation of that important work in 2024.
“Scotland’s approaches to the negotiations were informed by the best available evidence, taking into account scientific advice, socioeconomic factors, and the dynamics of fisheries. As always, close engagement with stakeholders across all sectors has been key to the success of these negotiations, and I would like to thank those who worked so constructively with us throughout the process.”
Establishing appropriate catch limits for North Sea and West of Scotland cod was Scotland’s top priority in this year’s negotiations, and the increases in these quotas for 2024 reflect an extremely positive picture of the health of the newly-defined north-western stock. This represents a step change away from the previous zero TAC advice for the West of Scotland. Discussions to further develop the management of this stock, in light of the latest scientific information will take place in 2024. Scotland’s priority will be to ensure an appropriate and evidence-based approach to these management changes as we move to a new set of area-based advice and subsequent sharing discussions with Norway.
Bilateral discussions with Norway and the Faroe Islands on additional exchanges of access and quota opportunities are ongoing.
The value to Scotland of the trilateral agreement is estimated to be £199 million, an increase of £68 million compared to 2023 quotas. TACs for the stocks have been agreed as follows:
Stock 2024 TAC (% change from 2023)
North Sea cod 24,900 tonnes (+15.00%)
West of Scotland cod 1,392 tonnes (+15.04%)
North Sea haddock 101,421 tonnes (+73.66%)
North Sea whiting 76,697 tonnes (+123.65%)
North Sea saithe 66,876 tonnes (+25.30%)
North Sea plaice 136,413 tonnes (+2.63%)
North Sea herring (A fleet) 510,323 tonnes (+28.69%)
Additionally, a commitment was made in the Agreed Record to progress work in 2024 on the development of Long Term Management Strategies for these stocks in the coming year.
The value to Scotland of the UK / EU bilateral agreement is estimated to be £194 million. TACs have been set at sustainable levels which take into account scientific advice from the ICES, socioeconomic factors, and where appropriate, TAC constraints to mitigate the large increases and decreases found in the scientific advice.
The UK / EU Written Record can be viewed here. The trilateral Agreed Record will be published on the Scottish Government website in due course.
Allocations of quotas to individual Producer Organisations and vessels will be made in the New Year.
Negotiations to set TAC limits for shared Coastal State stocks – mackerel, blue whiting, and Atlanto-Scandian herring – concluded in October, followed by the annual meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) which took place in November. Outcomes can be viewed here.
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