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Scots’ fishers short-changed by ‘reciprocal’ access deal for North Sea herring

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association boss Ian Gatt says the deal setting out access arrangements for North Sea herring fishers is "troubling".
Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association boss Ian Gatt says the deal setting out access arrangements for North Sea herring fishers is "troubling".

Scottish fishing chiefs are upset over a “troubling” imbalance” in access arrangements for boats targeting North Sea herring next year.

The coastal states’ agreement between countries with shared fisheries allows Norwegian vessels to catch up to 17,000 tonnes of herring in Scottish waters.

And while Scottish boats could theoretically catch the same amount of herring in Norwegian waters under reciprocal access arrangements in 2022, the UK’s quota allocation allows them to catch only 12,000t.

It doesn’t bode well for the future.”

Ian Gatt, Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association

Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association chief executive Ian Gatt said: “We have been granted access to catch 17,000t of herring in Norwegian waters next year.

“In return, Norwegian vessels can catch the same amount of herring in our waters.

“But the UK has only 12,000t of Atlanto-Scandian herring quota, so we start off what is meant to be a new relationship with a troubling imbalance. It doesn’t bode well for the future.”

Ian Gatt.

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said: “Not only is there an imbalance, but it could get worse as the year progresses.

“The agreement text allows for an increase in Norwegian access ‘should circumstances allow’.

“Reciprocal access must be built on fairness and equity – and there is no sign of that here.”

Simon Collins.

Conservative Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said: “The outcome of these negotiations is a significant improvement on what would have previously been delivered by the EU on our behalf when we were in the Common Fisheries Policy.

“This means we have a much stronger hand negotiating as an independent coastal state than when the EU was carrying out negotiations on our behalf.”

The Scottish discontent over access arrangements comes just weeks after the UK, Norway and the European Union struck a deal affecting some of Scotland’s most important commercial fish stocks.

Mixed picture for quotas

Catch levels for five of the six stocks covered by the talks were set in line with, or lower than, the level advised by scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

Scottish fishers will have access to more North Sea haddock next year after a 5% quota uplift.

The quotas for whiting and herring are up by 25% and 20% respectively, with the total allowable catch (TAC) for cod unchanged.


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But the TACs for plaice and saithe, also known as coley, are down by 12% and 24% respectively.

The three-way agreement marked the conclusion of the first in a series of annual fisheries negotiations for the UK as an independent coastal state.

Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said the discussions helped “set a gold standard for the entire fishing industry”.

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