To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the UK's fishing quota, in particular with regard to whether small-scale fishermen receive a fair share of that quota.
The Government remains committed to fishing sustainably and supporting the UK’s inshore fleet. Defra is in the final stages of concluding a quota realignment exercise which, when complete, will represent a 14% uplift in the amount of quota the inshore fleet currently receives. Quota units which were under-utilised by Producer Organisations (POs) in 2012 were identified for re-allocation. Three quarters of the Fisheries Quota Allocations relating to underutilised quota from POs has now been permanently realigned to the inshore fleet, with the balance to be completed as soon as possible.
The Government has also taken steps to support England’s inshore fleet under the landing obligation, or discard ban. The demersal landing obligation comes into force on 1 January 2016, following the successful introduction of a discard ban for pelagic fisheries in 2015. The introduction of the demersal landing obligation will be phased in for all quota fisheries between 2016 and 2019. The discard plans for 2016 introduce landing obligations for clearly defined fisheries, including haddock, whiting, sole, Nephrops, hake and plaice.
As a result of vessels no longer being able to discard, an uplift in quota will be awarded to fishermen so they can land formerly discarded fish. The allocation of quota uplift is a devolved matter, and Minister Eustice announced the Government’s policy for allocating quota uplift for the English fleet in October this year.
In 2016, the non-sector pools will receive the first 100 tonnes of any quota uplift received and then 10% of any remainder, before the rest is issued to the POs on behalf of their members. Defra consulted on the implementation of the demersal landing obligation and responses indicate that the inshore fleets have high discard rates as a result of low quotas. The Government considers this quota uplift to go some way to helping small-scale fishermen adapt to the first year of the demersal discard ban.
As the landing obligation represents the largest change in fisheries management for a generation, it is important that we continue to support all our vessels as they adapt to this significant change. We must therefore take stock of all that is going on in fisheries management before any further decisions are made with regard to quota reallocation in the future.