How quotas are set
In December each year the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers sets total allowable catches (TACs) for over 130 fish stocks. In setting these TACs, account is taken of various factors, including the latest scientific advice on the condition of the stocks.
Each year the UK and other EU member states receive a fixed percentage share of these TACs, based on historic fishing activity. This is known as the principle of relative stability between member states.
The UK’s quota is then shared out among 23 producer organisations (the sector), the inshore fleet (under 10 metre vessels) and vessels not in membership of a producer organisation (the non-sector) based on the fixed quota allocation units (FQA) held by the individual vessels in membership of each group, or by a group collectively.
Of the 23 producer organisations:
- 11 are administered by us
- 10 by Marine Scotland
- 2 are administered jointly by us and the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland).
The producer organisations manage their quotas as they see fit, and take responsibility for ensuring that they do not overfish their allocations. They also can arrange quota swaps either domestically with other producer organisations, the 10 metre and under fleet or the non-sector, or internationally with other member states.
These FQA units were themselves based on vessels' historic landings during a fixed reference period (1994 to 1996 for most stocks). Each group's share of the total UK quota for a particular stock is based principally on that group's share of the total FQA units for that stock which are held by the UK fleet as a whole.
It is the responsibility of each producer organisation to manage their quotas and to make sure that they do not overshoot their allocations. Groups do however have the facility to swap quota with other groups within the UK or, through fisheries administrations, to swap quota with other member states.
UK vessels, including those within POs, are subject to quota management rules, which are agreed yearly.
Groups' landings of quota stocks are monitored weekly by fisheries administrations, with uptake spreadsheets normally being produced every Wednesday.