The EU and UK reach three agreements on fisheries management

Following the departure of the UK from the EU, most stocks in the EU waters of the north-east Atlantic are now shared with non-EU countries, in particular the UK.

The EU and UK reach three agreements on fisheries management

The EU-UK Specialised Committee on Fisheries (SCF) reached three agreements for better fisheries management between the EU and UK.

The agreements include:

  • a mechanism for voluntary transfers of fishing opportunities between the EU and UK
  • common guidelines for notifying management measures to the other party
  • improvements to the management of four shared stocks (lemon sole, witch, turbot and brill)

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:

“These agreements demonstrate that the EU and UK can work effectively together under the framework of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. 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.”

The establishment of a mechanism for voluntary in-year transfers of fishing opportunities between the EU and UK will help fleets on both sides accommodate the distribution of their fishing opportunities to their specific operational needs. This mechanism will allow for several rounds of in-year transfers based on proposals from the industry. The mechanism is based on the principles of the interim system for quota exchanges in place since 2021, which has proven to work well for both parties. This agreement is unique among the EU’s relations with external fisheries partners, and follows the principles applied for quota swaps internally within the EU. 

The parties also made important advancements in the management of four shared stocks: lemon sole, witch, turbot and brill. The EU and UK adopted a recommendation setting out 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 entailed sustainability risks. This framework includes new TACs for these stocks in the Channel and Skagerrak, and associated EU and UK quota shares for these TACs.

The joint guidelines for notifications of management measures are another important milestone. Both the EU and UK now have to notify the other party of all management measures they take in their respective waters that may impact the vessels of the other party. These guidelines provide clarity to this process, including on timelines for notification, standardised content of notifications and on the engagement on notifications.