5. Future opportunities and community benefit
There was strong support from stakeholders for recognising that quota is a national and public asset, and the need to ensure that the wider economic and social benefits from fishing activity are realised, including recognition of the need to maintain fishing opportunities in the community, shared fairly around the coast. These considerations will be key drivers as we take forward development of proposals on the allocation of future additional quota opportunities. For 2021, we will engage industry further regarding the allocation of additional fishing opportunities in Scotland during the course of the year.
As part of our considerations around community benefits, we will amend the current economic link licence condition to establish an economic link through quota gifting, or meeting a landing target, to ensure that fishing opportunities provide an overall benefit to Scotland. This will help encourage greater landing of catch into Scottish ports. We intend to have this in place by early 2022.
Future additional quota opportunities
Within the discussion paper we explored an idea to distribute future additional quota opportunities differently (i.e. post-Brexit opportunities), with at least 50% of any additional quota being used, for example, for community quotas, to incentivise good practice, and new entrants. There was support from across the stakeholder spectrum for treating an element of 'new quota' differently, although not necessarily consensus around the level at which this might be set.
We will work with stakeholders to develop options for allocating additional quota opportunities differently, including community quota, new entrants, and incentivising best practice. Much of this work depends on the level of additional quota that may be secured through future international negotiations, which is linked to the wider Brexit negotiations. The level of quota will influence the scope of what we can do with it.
We envisage in the early years issuing a call for quota where we will consider on a case by case basis the benefits to be achieved by allocating some quota separately from the current Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) system. We will not allow this quota to be seen as an ongoing entitlement as opposed to a national resource. Our strategy will set out our approach on allocating this additional quota with a clear focus on active fishing activity.
There was general support from stakeholders about reviewing capacity limitations in the pelagic sector with possible release of additional licences, although also questions about how this might work in practice. We will work with stakeholders to consider next steps, which will need to equally balance managing our fishing activities with onshore capacity.
Distant water fishing opportunities
On distant water fishing opportunities there was a view from stakeholders that we needed to ensure that we have "fixed" issues at home first before pursuing additional fishing opportunities, although others saw this as an obvious opportunity to create new jobs and opportunities as well as to resume some lost historic activities. There is an obvious attraction to this, however investment in appropriate vessels and infrastructure will be considerable so business assurance on opportunities would be required. On that point, it should be recognised that seeking quota in north Norway, for example, will come at a cost to us either in swapped fish or access to Scottish waters in return. We remain interested in exploring the viability of identifying and enabling suitable distant water fishing opportunities but as it needs time to consider, this is not a short term priority.