Our International Approach
Scotland is a major fishing nation in the north-east Atlantic and we manage our fisheries in partnership at an international level. Whilst responsibility for management decisions is often defined by lines on a map, fish stocks rarely respect such boundaries.
Departure from the EU has changed the international context in which we operate, but we are determined to continue to play a full and key role in supporting and delivering international fisheries management, whether it be through our contribution to science and technology, through our international compliance contribution which sees us sharing intelligence and best working practices, or through taking joint decisions on the management of shared stocks. This includes continuing to play a full and active role in ICES, where Scottish scientists have and continue to make significant contributions to all levels of the ICES advisory process. Scotland is already well regarded by other nations and our opinions, knowledge and expertise will continue to be important in the future.
"We will be a responsible management partner, and will not be afraid to challenge others to increase standards where this will help support our fish stocks, our industries, and the communities they support."
As a Coastal State the UK controls and manages fishing in its Exclusive Economic Zone in accordance with international obligations. We will work closely with the UK Government and as part of the UK delegation, the Scottish Government will be an active partner at international negotiations, especially in relation to stocks which are predominantly present in Scottish waters and in relation to access to Scottish waters by foreign vessels. We do not envision a scenario where access to Scottish waters does not form a key component of annual negotiations.
Our negotiating approach is underpinned by a set of guiding principles that will remain consistent from year-to-year and which are consistent with the need to progress towards Good Environmental Status:
- Conduct negotiations on a principled rather than positional basis.
- Comply fully with a range of international conventions and obligations in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- Manage stocks using Total Allowable Catches (TACs) where appropriate - this will include considering introducing TACs for current non-quota species.
- Inform management decisions using best available scientific advice.
- Ensure foreign vessels fishing in Scottish waters meet the same high standards that apply to Scottish vessels in Scottish waters. We will also ensure that Scottish vessels meet these standards when fishing elsewhere.
- Support international compliance by sharing best practice and proactive engagement and collaboration.
- Protect environmental, economic and social outcomes by supporting a progressive move to Fmsy (fishing at MSY, i.e. at sustainable levels) for all stocks, without setting arbitrary targets and in mixed fisheries by the use of scientifically established Fmsy ranges.
- Reduce unnecessary discards as part of our Future Catching Policy to reduce waste and improve the sustainability of our fish stocks, protecting them for future generations.
- Monitor and reduce incidental bycatch (including mammals, birds and cetaceans.
- Protect and enhance the resilience and socio-economic wellbeing of our industry and the wellbeing of people and communities associated with it.
- Ensure sustainable exploitation of stocks through the establishment of comprehensive TAC sharing arrangements according to zonal attachment principles and development of stock-specific Long Term Management Strategies (LTMS).
To do this we will:
- Be an active and critical part of the UK delegation at international negotiations.
- Support new fishing opportunities in our own waters and further afield.
- Take a co-management approach, particularly in relation to critical management issues requiring a collective response.
- Through our Future Catching Policy we will involve industry, environmental stakeholders, and compliance experts directly in 'rule setting', to help advise on practical solutions and to increase buy-in to implementation of policies.
- Move towards more active and responsive management of stocks, particularly in response to issues and problems.
- Continue to engage with the EU to influence future reform of the CFP where appropriate and to demonstrate leadership in addressing key issues and challenges.
- Seek to influence the approach of others, demonstrating best practice and encouraging other fishing nations, both EU and non-EU, to meet certain standards including around fair treatment of workers and tackling modern slavery.
We will take an integrated approach to stock management, explicitly linking stock advice, quotas, and management measures such as technical and spatial rules, through our Future Catching Policy.
We also want to help ensure our fishing fleet, and others fishing in our waters are compliant with the management measures that we put in place and we will do this through our Promote, Prevent, Respond approach to Compliance. Taking a risk based approach, we will analyse and assess the risks associated with those management measures to take decisions on a range of compliance and enforcement options. Supporting this approach we will continue to use traditional measures such as using our Marine Protection Vessels (MPVs) to undertake inspections at sea, using drones and RIBS to monitor our inshore waters, and using our coastal inspectors to verify catches in port. We will also seek to continue to modernise our approach with additional measures, making full use of appropriate technology including, but not limited to, Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The use of REM will help us to demonstrate correct and compliant activity by fishers, and will also help us to eliminate non-compliant behaviour where this occurs. It should be seen as a positive tool which we hope the vast majority of fishers will embrace.