Information relating to Sandeel fishery: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Information requested

1 How many boats are licensed for the fishery?

2 What quota do they have, how much can they catch?

3 How many days a year is the fishery open?

4 What reporting do they have to do, report on landing, report daily, etc and who verifies it?

5 What restrictions on by catch do they have? i.e. Are they allowed 40% undersized white fish, 20% herring, 60% mackerel, etc.

6. Is the sandeel fishery in Scotland still closed?


There was a recent PQ (S6O-00016) on this topic, and the transcript can be viewed here:

1. No UK vessels have quota allocated and they cannot therefore prosecute this fishery. As to how many non UK vessels will prosecute this fishery, this will depend on quota for the flag state and how the flag state allocates it, as well as the suitability of vessels to fish for sandeels.

2. The terms of the trade and co-operation agreement established between the UK and EU in December 2020 entitles EU vessels access to fish their quota in UK waters.

Through the bilateral agreement for 2021, finalised recently, a TAC level has been set for sandeel which gives the EU an overall quota of 89,966 tonnes to fish against. Within this quota, there are catch limits in place for each of the seven sandeel management areas in the North Sea: for example, the EU quota for sandeel management area 4, which sits mostly within Scottish waters, has been set at 67,099 tonnes.

You can view the UK/EU Written Record for 2021 here: Written record of fisheries consultations between the United Kingdom and the European Union For 2021 (

3. The fishery is open predominantly around this time from the start of May but is restricted due to quota availability.

4. Boats operate direct into Denmark with electronic logbooks and landings data which then comes back through the normal channels for exchanging data. Responsibility for monitoring catch on landing would fall to the Danish authorities.

5. The UK/EU Written Record specifies that: “Up to 2 % of the EU quota may consist of by catches of whiting and mackerel (OT1/*2A3A4). By catches of whiting and mackerel counted against the quota pursuant to this provision and by catches of species counted against the quota pursuant to Article 15(8) of regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 shall, together, not exceed 9 % of the quota.”

6. Going into this year’s annual negotiations, the UK had an opening position, in line with our overarching principle, of setting a zero TAC for this stock. As a product of the bilateral negotiations with the EU, a sandeel TAC was agreed for 2021, however this does not alter our overarching and long held principle, and as such we will not be allocated fishing opportunities to UK vessels in 2021.

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