Fishing quota - additional allocation from 2024: equality impact assessment

Assessment to ensure that decision, for the allocation of Additional Quota, has due regard to to certain equality considerations.


Policy Aim:

The Scottish Government Marine Directorate has consulted on how Additional Quota (AQ) is to be allocated from 2024. AQ is the share of fish quota that has increased following the UK leaving the EU and becoming an independent coastal state. The Scottish share is managed by the Scottish Government Marine Directorate which allocates it to the Scottish fishing industry. The resultant methodology is to be in line with Statutory Obligations (in particular Section 25 of the Fisheries Act 2020) and relevant regulatory and Scottish Government objectives.

Summary of Outcome

Following consideration of responses to the consultation, objectives for the use of quota as set out in the Fisheries Act 2020 and other relevant information, the Scottish Government will allocate Additional Quota in the following way:

  • Through the Historic Track Record (HTR) of active fishing vessels, based on an annually updated reference period, beginning in 2025.
  • Through special allocations to non-sector vessels with an immediate uplift in the quota retained for the following stocks: North Sea Saithe, North East Atlantic Mackerel, North Sea Cod and West of Scotland cod.
  • From 2025, West of Scotland cod will be allocated to sectoral vessels following an application process.
  • Retaining the option to allocate quota on an equal basis between eligible vessels resulting from swaps of fishing quotas with other coastal states.

While not intending to introduce in the short term (and not subject of this EQIA), the Scottish Government will additionally:

  • Investigate the potential development of Community Quota Initiatives, with this allocation methodology potentially being adopted in future years.
  • Explore whether non-compliance with fishing regulations could be used as a basis for withholding access to AQ as part of the body of work to review the penalties system.

Fisheries management in Scotland is framed within the delivery of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework, and helps support a range of national outcomes including those related to supporting a sustainable economy, delivering fair work and thriving businesses, supporting a strong international presence for Scotland and empowering communities and strengthening their resilience.

Who will it affect?

Reflect here on how the policy – and the changes it will make in the world - might or will have an impact on people. Include how people – and different groups of people and/or communities - might be affected by this policy, directly or indirectly, and who might benefit from the policy and in what ways.

The policy is expected to have a positive overall effect on people since it provides additional fishing opportunities in the form of additional available fishing quota. Some people will benefit directly from the adjustments made by the policy whilst others will benefit from many of the downstream services which the additional fishing opportunities will provide.

Since the policy concerns the allocation of additional fishing quota it will not only directly affect people and communities involved in the fishing industry but will also affect the many ancillary and support sectors such as transport, ports and harbours, food processing, retail and ultimately consumer markets.

The specific key changes and benefits resulting from the policy are described below:

Historic Track Record

The HTR method allocates fishing quota based on what a vessel landed previously for each fish stock. Under this option, the share of AQ each vessel receives would be based on the vessel’s share of all landings (across active vessels in that year) for that stock during the identified reference period – in the consultation we proposed to maintain the use of the period 2015-19.

Distribution of AQ, based on the HTR of vessels over a recent reference period, would increase allocations to vessels which have landed those quota species in the recent past. This would take account of in-year quota adaptations, where vessels have acquired additional fishing opportunities (such as through swaps of quota) and landed that fish product.

The HTR method restricts access to Additional Quota primarily to vessels in Fish Producers Organisations, Quota Management Groups and non-sector vessels over 10 metres in length. The Scottish Government recognises that this restricts the ability of new sector entrants and smaller vessels in the non-sector to access Additional Quota. To help mitigate against this downside, Special Allocations reserve a portion of Additional Quota to the fleet of non-sector vessels

Revising the reference period to an annually updated window ensures quota allocation is matched to fishing activity and allows new entrants to build a track record through the leasing of quota from others.

Sectoral Groups are bodies recognised by a UK fisheries authority. They have devolved quota management responsibilities under the UK and national rules of the fisheries authority that recognises them. It should be noted that Scottish licensed fishing vessels can be in membership of a Sectoral Group recognised and operating under the rules of a fisheries authority in another part of the UK. So, we envisage that Sectoral Groups outside of Scotland would be able to apply for this quota on behalf of their Scottish administered vessels.

The economic benefit of HTR will be unchanged by this change in allocation method. The overall economic value will remain tied to the landed value of the total allocation, which will vary according to the outcome of international negotiations and subsequent quota apportionment by the UK government to the Scottish Ministers. Annually updating HTR better reflects the activity of the fishing fleet compared to a fixed period, ensuring quota is fished by active vessels. It also reduces the barrier to new entrants, as it will be possible, through leasing, to build up a track record.

Special Allocations:

Special allocations of AQ to the non-sector may provide additional social and economic benefits by enabling fishers to diversify to target demersal and pelagic fish which may broaden market access, increase revenue and take advantage of seasonal availability of certain stocks in inshore waters. This would allow for a wider distribution of the AQ and increase the potential to build resilience into coastal communities thus securing jobs and retaining working age people

Adjusting quantities made available to the non-sector fleet through special allocations and focusing increases on three species with recent high utilisation and realises a potential benefit of approximately £570,000 above current arrangements, based on 2022 Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics landed values.

Applications to access West of Scotland Cod on environmental, social and economic criteria

Following revised assessment by ICES resulting in the setting of a directed fishery TAC for West of Scotland Cod for the first time since 2012, approximately 200 tonnes will be available for allocation as AQ, with a landed value in the region of £750000.

Retaining the option of allocating in-year quota transfers on an equal basis.

This is expected to be used when negotiation leads to in-year gains of pelagic quota through transfers between coastal states, and will provide an economic benefit for those recipients.

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

Set out here any factors that might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved.

There are a range of external factors which can impact on the fisheries sector, on the economy and on local communities and individuals. These may include weather patterns, migration and levels of fish stocks, vessel maintenance and breakdowns and fishing gear/equipment procurement and adjustments.


Equality legislation covers the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation race, and religion or belief. The scope of this equality impact assessment (EQIA) also includes wider socio-economic considerations; including people living in low-income households. Geographical location is important given that seafood industries are more present in certain areas than others, and consequently the benefits of AQ are not evenly distributed around Scotland. The EQIA therefore considers how the policy might impact on people living in remote, rural and coastal areas and island communities.

The policy itself is not expected to directly impact negatively on individuals with protected characteristics but there may be some indirect impacts due to the nature of the fishing industry. We expect that certain groups of the workforce population could be more heavily impacted by aspects of the policy, because of the demographics of the seafood workforce. For example because most fishers are male of an average age of 40 there are likely to be age and gender considerations in any change to fisheries policy.



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