Fishing - additional quota allocation - 2021: consultation analysis

This document provides an analysis of responses and outcome to the ‘Consultation on the allocation of Additional Quota for 2021’.

Outcome and next steps

Having analysed consultation responses we will briefly explore two variations to the options proposed that were raised in responses for use this year.

Pelagic sector

A proposal cited in some responses was that pelagic vessels should be set apart from other sectors and quota distributed equally between eligible vessels. A range of reasons were presented to support this change (such as recent extensive rebuilding in the pelagic fleet). This proposal will not be utilised for 2021, as it is such a significant variation on any of the proposed methodologies and there is no opportunity for alternative points of view to be gathered. Fundamental issues would need to be considered in relation to this proposal such as: whether vessels capturing handline mackerel are eligible - as in many such responses eligibility is not clear. This will be considered for future allocation but not at this point.

However, many of these responses (and others) highlighted that many large pelagic vessels have been replaced in recent years which will impact on individual track record of these vessels. Having looked at the rate of change in pelagic vessels this is substantiated. This sentiment was also raised in other responses concerned with sectors outside the pelagic fleet (such as West of Scotland FPO).

Use of 2020 in track record period

There were also calls for the year 2020 to be included in the reference period for track record. Given this was not one of the options consulted upon and respondents were not able to provide feedback this will not be used for this year. Consultees may have raised issues with 2020 being used given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alignment of options with aims

Moving on now to consider how the options presented align with Marine Scotland's aims for the use of Additional Quota in 2021.

In the consultation document we stated that in considering our approach to the allocation of additional quota for 2021, we sought to:

  • Support the active fishing fleet and help reduce their business costs.
  • Help businesses with diversification of fishing operations through access to new fishing opportunities.
  • Be consistent with Marine Scotland's developing future fisheries policy and developing Blue Economy Action Plan.

We set out that, in line with the UK Fisheries Act 2020, Additional Quota will be distributed based on criteria that:

  • Are transparent and objective; and
  • Include criteria relating to environmental, social and economic factors.

Informed by the consultation responses and wider considerations (such as the outcome of the TCA) we will now explore how the options align with Marine Scotland's approach for the allocation of additional quota in 2021 and set the basis for allocation Additional Quota for 2021, in line with the Fisheries Act criteria.

Support the active fishing fleet and help reduce their business costs

To a greater or lesser degree all of the three options presented offered support to the active fishing industry. However, as can clearly be seen in responses there was a strong view that allocation based on FQA holdings would also reward businesses/individuals a step removed from the active catching sector.

The option that would appear to best align with supporting the active fishing fleets is that of allocating based on historical track record – as quota allocation would reflect previous fishing activity.

In analysing data regarding the flow of stock swaps it can be seen that for many North Sea and West of Scotland stocks, the Scottish sector is a net acquirer of quota, i.e. Scottish vessels' historic landings show a requirement to acquire additional quota from other UK (or previously EU) sources. With the outcome of the TCA (which has delivered less Additional Quota than had been expected) and the fact that no further Additional Quota opportunities have been realised in negotiations, this could place an even greater demand on leasing quota if allocation was distributed on the basis of FQA holdings. Allocating via track record would recognise past activity in fisheries and therefore help reduce the need to engage in quota leasing.

Likewise, allocating additional quota to the non-sector would support active fishing vessels. However, as highlighted in consultation responses, where additional opportunity has been provided to this fleet in the past, it has not always been fully utilised. There are also capacity or geographic issues (such as stocks not being present in inshore waters) that may limit the catching capacity of non-sector vessels.

In terms of helping to reduce business costs, the option that most clearly aligns with this aim is historic track record. Supportive responses for the use of historic track record (and responses opposed to allocation based on FQA units) made clear their opposition to Additional Quota being used as means of gaining financial reward by those not actively fishing. Allocating quota based on track record will help reduce leasing costs to the active industry. The same situation is not present in the non-sector as the facility to swap quota is not available (vessels fish from a collective pool of quota).

Help businesses with diversification of fishing operations through access to new fishing opportunities

The method of allocation that most clearly satisfies this criteria is allocation to the non-sector. By definition historic track record is centred on past activity and FQA units are largely based on a reference period from the 1990s (though it should be borne in mind that quota swaps and transfers can allow for a degree of diversification).

By allocating Additional Quota to the non-sector pools this gives the opportunity for all vessels in the respective pools to target the quota (however, it must be taken into account fishing opportunities are not equivalent around the coast).

Be consistent with Marine Scotland's developing future fisheries policy and developing Blue Economy Action Plan

At this point, the Blue Economy Action Plan is in development and though the Future of Fisheries Management Strategy has been published a monitoring and evaluation framework is to follow. However, the FFM sets out environmental, economic and social objectives and we will now explore which of the three options best align with these:

Environmental outcomes

It can be seen in consultation responses that there was the clear view that allocating Additional Quota to the non-sector would have the lowest impact on the marine environment of the three options presented. This was particularly the case where fishing operations were carried out in a way that reduced the impact on the marine environment. Marine Scotland would agree that allocating to the non-sector where the method of capture is associated with a lower environmental impact (such as handline) can offer the potential to minimise impact on the marine environment. A point not developed in consultation responses, however, was the potential increased carbon footprint from having additional vessels targeting new fisheries.

Allocating based on historical track record can also be seen as a means of offsetting the impact of the landings obligation, however, this was not developed to any significant degree in consultation responses.

Economic outcomes

As set out above (under the aim: Support the active fishing fleet and help reduce their business costs) the use of track record will help reduce the need to engage in swaps to acquire fishing opportunity

In terms of widening economic benefit, allocating Additional Quota to the non-sector has the potential to broaden impact – provided that this opportunity is utilised and market opportunities are available for the additional opportunity – in a way that neither of the alternative options explored could. This is because quota allocated to either of the non-sector pools is available to all vessels in the groups and not dependent on historical activity (though there are limiting factors such as geographic location etc.).

Societal outcomes

Again to a greater or lesser extent all of the options can help support our coastal communities. Allocating via FQA units potentially has the least direct benefit, as individuals/entities a step removed from the active sector benefit, whereas the two alternatives direct fishing opportunity directly to the active fishing fleet. In terms of spreading economic benefits from Additional Quota, the most direct benefit can be seen in allocation to the non-sector – providing such opportunities are utilised. As this would present economic opportunity beyond those with track record or FQA holdings.


Following consideration of responses to the consultation, objectives for the use of quota, criteria set out in the UK Fisheries Act 2020 and other relevant factors (such as the outcome of the TCA and the fact we are nearly a quarter of the way through the quota year), the Scottish Government for 2021 will:

  • Allocate the greater share of Additional Quota based on historic track record on vessels in the reference period 2015-2019, to vessels active as of 1 January 2021.
  • Allocate a proportion of Additional Quota to the non-sector.

The allocation of Additional Quota to these groups will target fishing opportunity to the active industry, help to reduce business costs and allow for the diversification of fishing opportunity.

Next Steps

Details of allocation

Historic track record:

  • Vessels will be apportioned track record in line with their declared landings of fish stocks during the reference period 2015-2019 – some quota stocks landed during this reference period are no longer regulated by a Total Allowable Catch and therefore there is no Additional Quota to be awarded.
  • Additional Quota will be awarded to vessels that were active (an active Scottish vessel and licence) as of 1 January 2021. This is to ensure that Additional Quota is being awarded to the active fishing fleet. In addition, assessments of sectoral group membership to inform allocation, is based on membership as of 1 January.
  • Additional Quota will be allocated to sectoral groups based on the aggregated share of vessels in that group at 1 January 2021. However Additional Quota will be distinguished from Existing Quota as part of the allocation process for ease of reference for sectoral groups.
  • For vessels replaced during, or since, the reference period, and where the replacement vessels was active at 1 January 2021, Marine Scotland has associated the track record of the inactive vessels with their direct replacements, where the ownership is identical and where the former vessel had landed a minimum of 200 tonnes (of all quota stocks) in the reference period.
  • It is expected that sectoral groups will allocate Additional Quota to their vessels on the same basis as it has been allocated to the sectoral group by the Scottish Government.
  • The Scottish Government will seek details on how Additional Quota has been utilised from sectoral groups to inform our understanding of utilisation.
  • Further details will be set out in updated Scottish Quota Management Rules.


To allow for diversification of fishing opportunity and help increase resilience, the non-sector pools will receive Additional Quota.

Given delays in allocation of additional quota, our opportunity for discussion with stakeholders is limited. However, having consideration the criteria set out in the consultation document, consultation responses and analysis of recent landing data we will allocate additional quota to the non-sectors to allow for diversification of fishing opportunity and help increase resilience.

At the point of writing we do not have details of the tonnages of Additional Quota to be apportioned to Scotland, however, we will seek to allocate additional opportunity to the 10 metre and under pool for the following stocks (estimated allocation of Existing Quota for 2021 added for reference)

Stocks for which we will seek to allocate Additional Quota

North Sea cod

North Sea saithe

North Sea anglers

North Sea lemon sole

North Sea skate

North Sea ling

North Sea mackerel

West of Scotland mackerel

West of Scotland skate

West of Scotland anglers

West of Scotland ling

For the over 10 metre fleet we will look to make mackerel quota available for handline fishing.

Scottish Quota Management Rules

Further details on the allocation of Additional Quota will be set out in updated Scottish Quota Management Rules.

Future arrangements

The future allocation of Scottish Additional quota will be the subject of a further consultation. We note the responses related to alternative methods of distribution and note themes including developing regional initiatives, allowing for diversification/new entrants and allocation based and incentivising desired socio-economic / environmental characteristics.

Marine Scotland

March 2021



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