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The EU-UK Specialized Committee on Fisheries (SCF) reached three agreements less than a week ago to improve fisheries management between the EU and the UK. With this, both parties seek to enhance the management of shared stocks, voluntary transfers of fishing opportunities and common guidelines for the notification of fishing opportunities.
“These agreements demonstrate that the EU and UK can work effectively together under the framework of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. “These agreements will improve the sustainable management of our shared fishing stocks and support both our fleets. It demonstrates the success of our work together to normalise our new fisheries relationship and sets a strong basis for continued cooperation on shared management challenges.”
Over the past decades, more than 100 fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea have been managed between the two parties. However, from January 1, 2021, the former fish stocks jointly administered by the EU and the UK changed from exclusive EU fish stocks to shared stocks under international law.
As a result, and since then, each year, the EU and the UK consult on setting their respective fishing opportunities for the shared stocks for the following year. Therefore, moving forward with longer-term agreements ensures that the interests of both parties are maintained and stabilizes matters for the industry affected by the fishing zone.
Basis for three of the UK and EU’s main fisheries issues
The initial point concerns creating a system for optional yearly exchanges between the two groups. This arrangement assists the UK and European fishing fleets in adapt their fishing allocations according to their practical requirements. Furthermore, the agreement plans for multiple transfer periods throughout the year, which will rely on proposals from the industry.
This first agreement is based on the principles of the interim system for quota exchange in force since 2021, which has proven to work well for both parties. This agreement is unique among EU relations with external fishing partners and follows the principles applied for quota exchanges within the EU.
On the other hand, another agreement relates to managing four shared fish stocks: lemon sole, witch flounder, turbot, and brill. In this case, significant progress has been made between the EU and the UK in adopting a recommendation that establishes a new framework for setting total allowable catches (TACs) for these four stocks after scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) stated that the previous management approach involved sustainability risks. In addition, this framework includes new TACs for these stocks in the Channel and Skagerrak and associated EU and UK quotas for these TACs.
Finally, the last of the agreements relates to joint guidelines for notifications of management measures. Both the EU and the UK now have to notify each other of all management measures they take in their respective waters that may affect each other’s vessels. This measure is intended to ensure that both parties have clarity on the process at all times, including deadlines for notification, standardized content of notifications and participation in notifications.
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