INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

April 2004


LOCATION AND MAIN LANDING PLACES


Landings into major UK ports by the UK fleet (2002)

 

Quantity ('000 tonnes)

Value ( million)

 

1999

2000

2001

2002

1999

2000

2001

2002

Peterhead

98.5

87.9

76.5

92.9

78.8

70.5

58

59.8

Fraserburgh

32.6

33.5

38.5

34.2

27.9

25.2

28.9

28.2

Scrabster

15.3

17.7

17.9

19.1

19.6

22.1

21.6

21.9

Lerwick

67

56.4

53.2

72.7

14.4

15.2

21.2

29.8

Newlyn

8.8

8.9

9.2

8.4

17.1

18.1

18.2

19.3

Brixham

8.4

10.4

8.8

9.4

15.8

18.5

17.5

18

Aberdeen

38.7

26.3

21.9

17

26.2

20.6

14.9

15.1

Lochinver

8.3

7.7

8.6

7.4

10.4

10.2

11.9

10.7

Mallaig

15.6

12.7

8.1

7.9

14.8

12.2

10.7

8.2

Plymouth

14.5

13.6

17.6

15.1

10.7

8.2

10.3

9.6

Kinlochbervie

11.4

9.6

8.6

7.5

13.2

12

10.3

9.4

Ullapool

8.2

7.4

8.5

7.9

7.9

7.5

8.7

9.3

Grimsby

6.4

7.3

6.8

6.1

7.6

7.5

6.8

6.5

Hull

9.5

8

6.8

4.1

10.3

8.1

6.7

4

Kilkeel

7

5.4

6

4.9

8.4

5.9

6.7

6.1

Portavogie

5.4

4.4

4.2

4.4

7.4

6.1

6.1

6.1

Milford Haven

3.9

4

3.1

2.6

7.1

7.3

6.1

5.1

Total All Ports

506.3

464.5

458.3

465.6

463.8

422

423.7

414.7

Source:-  Fisheries Departments in the UK

 

 

 

 

 


Landings have declined in volume and value over the past five years due to declining fish stocks and resulting management restrictions. The most valuable species in 2002 was nephrops at US$ 123.2 million, followed by mackerel (US$ 76.4 million), and cod and haddock (US$ 62.65 million each). The northern North Sea, which accounted for 28% in value of fish caught, was the most important fishing ground. This was followed by western Scotland (25%), the central North Sea and English Channel (11% each).

ROLE OF THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR

The fisheries, aquaculture, fish processing and trade industries are private ventures. There are property rights to some salmonid fisheries. Management and research is public and financed through mainly national funds, whereas the structural and market oriented effort is planned through and financed jointly under the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union (EU), but implemented, executed and monitored by the National Fisheries Authorities.      

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE REGION

Extensive international co-operation is present in the region on both fisheries and environmental issues related to the marine environment. Apart from the EU, the UK is a member of, for example, ICES, OSPAR, and a pro-active member of the UN-organisations.

PRESENT ROLE OF FISHERIES IN THE NATIONAL ECONOMY

In 2001, there were over 14,000 fishermen in the UK of which 45% were in Scotland, 51% in England and Wales and 4% in Northern Ireland. Employment is estimated to have since fallen to 12,000. There has been a 33% drop in the number of full-time fishermen and a 39% fall in part-timers, since 1995.

While fishermen account for a small percentage of the national workforce (0.2% in Scotland and 0.1% in England and Wales), they make a significant contribution to some local economies as they tend to be regionally and locally concentrated. Around 20% of UK fishermen are located in the south west of England and 13% in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The UK has consistently been a net importer of fish products over the last decade. Imports are mainly of bulk whitefish from Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, etc. The UK exports 40-60% of its catch by value. Most of this consists of high value shellfish exports to EU countries (mainly France and Spain), exports of other minor species to the EU, and low price pelagic fish destined for countries outside the EU.

FISHERIES POLICIES AND PLANS

UK fisheries policy and management come under the umbrella of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the EU. The primary aim of the CFPs fisheries management policy is to ensure exploitation of living aquatic resources that provides sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions. To this end, the precautionary principle is to be applied, and management should be moving towards adoption of an ecosystem-based approach. Management is based on regulating the quantities of fish caught, through a system of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), complemented by technical conservation measures.

Apart from the resource management policy, the CFP is comprised of three key strands: structural policy, market policy and international agreements. Structural policy is aimed at improving the balance between catching capacity and available resources by limiting fishing effort, and to support diversification within and outside the sector. Opportunities to fish in third country waters are also secured through the CFP.

Adjustment of fishing capacity

Fishing fleet overcapacity in the EU has been estimated to be as high as 60 per cent in some fisheries, and despite previous fleet policy programmes aimed at bringing capacity down, the issue has yet to be adequately addressed. There is an EU requirement to balance fleets with available resources, and responsibility for meeting this objective rests with the EU Member States.

Fleet adjustment is based on national reference levels that limit overall capacity, in combination with effort limitations introduced for some regions and under recovery plans, restrictions in aid for vessels modernisation, and economic incentives to decommission vessels. When capacity is removed with public aid, the reference level is reduced accordingly. Member States choosing to provide aid for new-builds will also see their reference level reduced by a one-off 3 per cent. There is an entry/exit ratio for the introduction of new vessels of 1 to 1, with exits supported by public aid not being allowed to be replaced. For new vessels over 100 GT built with public aid, the entry/exit ratio is 1 to 1.35 to counter so-called technological creep. There is some scope to increase tonnage levels if this relates to modernisation above the main deck, as long as this does not increase the catching ability of the vessel.

Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas

Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are a key element of fisheries management in the UK. For a number of key commercial stocks, TACs are agreed by the EU Member States each December. TACs place an overall limit on the weight of fish which fishermen may land. TAC proposals are drawn up by the European Commission, reflecting scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on appropriate levels of catches if stocks [or catches?] are to be sustained. Once the TACs are agreed they are divided between Member States according to a system of 'relative stability' under which each receives a national quota for individual stocks.

Technical conservation measures

Technical conservation measures provide a second key management tool. The measures include setting minimum landing sizes for different species; requiring the use of specific mesh sizes; in some circumstances, obliging the use of separator/selective devices; putting restrictions on what fishing gear can be used; and, closing some areas to certain types of fishing, permanently or some times of year. Although most measures are designed in order to protect juvenile or spawning stocks, some are also aimed at reducing impacts on non-target species and habitats. Most measures are adopted by the EU, with some supplementary measures adopted by the UK, particularly concerning territorial waters.

Management plans

According to the CFP, EU recovery plans should be developed for already overfished stocks and management plans for other stocks. Limitation of fishing effort within the plans is subject to case-by-case scrutiny. Plans are also required to take interactions between different stocks and fisheries into account, and may include targets related to other species or the wider marine environment. Plans are supposed to include so-called pre-determined harvesting rules, as a means of introducing a longer term perspectives within fisheries management. Currently, recovery plans are in place for cod stocks and northern hake. Further recovery and management plans are under development.

GENERAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

UK fisheries systems and policies sit within the context of both regional and international fisheries agreements. The overarching international framework is provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), FAO Conference Resolution 15/93 and the UN agreement of 1995 (Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks). While the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries 4/95 has no legal force it does have political implications for the management systems.

Key EU and national policies and legislation are as follows:

EU

         Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy

         Commission Regulation (EC) No 850/98 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms (as amended)

         Council Regulation (EC) No 2369/2002 amending Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999 laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector

England & Wales

         Sea Fisheries Regulation Act 1966

         Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967

Amended by:

         Sea Fisheries (Wildlife Conservation) Act 1992

         Sea Fisheries Act 1968

         Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975

         Fishery Limits Act 1981

         Fisheries Act 1981

         Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994

         The Environment Act 1995

         Various Sea Fisheries Regulating and Several Orders & byelaws

Northern Ireland

         Foyle Fisheries Act (NI) 1952

         Fisheries Act (NI) 1966

As amended by the Fisheries (Amendment) (NI) Order 1981, Fisheries (Amendment) (NI) Order 1991 & the Fisheries (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2001

         Foyle Area (Close Season) Regulations 1999

Scotland

         Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 (regulates up to 6nm)

         Inshore Fishing (Prohibition of Fishing and Fishing Methods) (Scotland) Order 1989

         Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Protection) (Scotland) Act 1951

         Various Sea Fisheries Acts & byelaws

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

The UK industry accesses funding through multi-annual EU Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) programmes, which also draw in national and private funds. The capture fisheries industry received in the region of US$ 80 600 85 000 annually in the years 1999 to 2001. Expenditure has included vessel modernisation, port development, research and enforcement. Over this period increased financial support has also been allocated to aquaculture, and marketing and processing.

PROJECTION OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Competition is expected to be the main factor influencing future UK fish prices rather than stock recovery, as global markets continue to open up and tariffs reduce. Prices for major stocks are unlikely to rise much in future, and could fall by between 10%-50% depending on the stock concerned and applied tariffs.

Consumer preferences, further development of fishing grounds abroad and an increasingly global supply chain will drive the level of imports that come into the UK. This will place increasing downward pressure on prices, with implications for the UK catching sector. Many of the UKs main current or future competitors in Iceland, Canada, Norway and New Zealand have reformed their fisheries management systems, and have or are actively seeking independent certification of their sustainability.

The UK fleet is ageing and, in some sectors, struggling financially. If the industry fails to modernise and rationalise, then the fleet may reduce in size, with further quotas purchased by foreign owners of UK-flagged vessels, as EU internal market laws prevent any discrimination on the grounds of nationality.

While aquaculture has grown significantly in the past twenty years, with farmed salmon dominating the market, it is considered unlikely that aquaculture with have a significant impact on the white fish markets in the next decade due to high production costs.

NATIONAL AND FISHERIES INSTITUTIONS

National Administrations

Fisheries Departments in the UK are comprised of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish Executive Environment & Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD), the National Assembly for Wales Agriculture Department (NAWAD), and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARD). Departments in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are responsible for administering fishing activity in their respective areas.

Quota Management

Producer Organisations (POs) are established under the CFP to enable groups of fishermen to market the fish they catch. In 1985 POs were given the opportunity to manage allocations of some whitefish stocks subject to TAC restrictions in the North Sea (Area IV) and West of Scotland (Area VI). In 1991 this opportunity was extended to TAC whitefish stocks in the English Channel and Western waters (Area VII). Since 1995, POs wishing to manage quota allocations for whitefish stocks in Areas IV, VI and VII have been required to do so for all such stocks; a similar requirement for pelagic stocks was introduced in 1999. Allowing POs to take on this management responsibility enables them to plan the uptake of their particular allocations to optimise the benefit to their members. In 2004 there were 23 POs in the UK.

Inshore Fisheries Management

EU Member States can manage fishing activities out to 12 nautical miles. UK inshore waters are managed by the respective national administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England and Wales there are twelve Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs) which regulate local sea fisheries around virtually the entire coast out to 6 miles. SFCs were established in the late 1800s and are empowered to make bye-laws for the management and conservation of their districts' fisheries. In 1995 their powers were widened to include the control of fisheries in their districts for environmental purposes. The Environment Agency regulates inland fisheries and some coastal fisheries, which are typically located in estuaries.

 

This profile draws upon, among others, the report Net Benefits. A sustainable and profitable future for UK fishing, March 2004. Crown copyright March 2004.