In the third year of annual fisheries negotiations with the UK operating as an independent coastal state, the UK and EU agreed catch levels for 69 important fish stocks. This included some of the most commercially valuable stocks to the UK fishing industry such as North Sea Nephrops (£54m), Anglerfish (£31m) and Western hake (£25m).
Throughout the negotiations, the UK Government has worked closely with the devolved administrations to ensure fishing communities across the UK will benefit from the agreement. The Scottish industry, for example, will benefit from improved catch levels for North Sea stocks including cod, hake, whiting and Nephrops.
The agreement also commits the UK and EU to work together to provide more sustainable fisheries management.
Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said: “Our agreement with the EU secures valuable fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry while cementing our joint commitment to manage fisheries sustainably.
“These decisions are based on the latest scientific advice to help protect key fish stocks with the long term health of the marine environment at the forefront of our minds.
“We are backing the fishing industry across the country to succeed, with a landmark £100m investment in infrastructure, skills and better scientific data so that our fishing industry thrives for generations to come.”
This latest deal follows an agreement with the UK, EU and Norway on six North Sea fish stocks including cod, haddock and herring worth £202m to the UK fishing industry.
In the same week, the UK secured catch limits worth a further £256m with the North East Atlantic coastal States, while an agreement with Norway last month will see the UK fishing industry benefit from fishing opportunities worth £5 million in 2023.
The UK has also started negotiations with the Faroe Islands on exchanges of fishing opportunities for 2023.
Commenting on the deal, Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said: “I have been engaging heavily with UK Government ministers and officials, as well as with the Scottish fishing industry, to ensure the best outcomes from this and other rounds of negotiations between the UK, EU and other neighbouring coastal states such as Norway.
"This latest result of bilateral negotiations between the UK and the EU follows broadly favourable outcomes from the bilateral agreement with Norway and the trilateral between all three coastal states."Successive years since our exit from the EU, the Common Fisheries Policy and becoming an independent coastal state have all seen a steady improvement in catching opportunities for the Scottish fleet – particularly in Banff and Buchan."As well as the progressive increase in some stocks via the Trade and Cooperation agreement, it is clear that in these annual negotiations the Scottish industry, as well as Scottish Government and officials, have a far stronger voice than if we were still in the EU."
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “We are pleased that the UK and EU have reached agreement on fishing opportunities for 2023. Crucially, between this agreement and the one reached with Norway earlier this month, our negotiators have managed to mitigate the impact of ICES’s over-precautionary catch advice from ICES on monkfish that industry considers to be unjustified. Monkfish was Scotland’s most valuable demersal species in 2021, and a 30% reduction would have been hugely damaging for our whitefish fleet.
“Outcomes on other key demersal species for the Scottish fleet are positive and we also look forward in 2023 to a full review of the North Sea cod assessment through the ICES benchmark process, and to a future where fishermen’s knowledge and expertise can play a meaningful role in stock assessments and catch advice.
“In addition to the good outcomes from negotiations for next year, talks will continue into 2023 with North East Atlantic coastal states on longer term sharing arrangements for a number of our pelagic stocks, and the outcome of these talks will be very important for the longer term.
“It is still regrettable however that the UK doesn’t have the same relationship with the EU on fishing as any other independent coastal state has, and we remain constrained by the Brexit deal on fisheries that leaves us unable to control access to our waters.
“This has been a very busy spell for our negotiating teams from Scottish and UK governments, and we are grateful for their sustained efforts to secure good outcomes for the Scottish industry, and for taking industry’s views and knowledge into account in their negotiations.”