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New Figures Show Extent of EU Fishing Catch in UK EEZ

11 October 2016

UK - European Union fishing boats caught more than half of the fish landed from the United Kingdom’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in recent years, and seven times more than UK boats caught elsewhere in EU waters, states a new report from the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in the Shetland Islands.

The analysis, carried out by NAFC's Senior Policy Advisor, Dr Ian R. Napier, estimated that from 2012 to 2014 fishing boats from other EU countries caught 58 per cent of the fish and shellfish landed from the United Kingdom’s EEZ each year, on average.

That is some 650,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth more than £400 million, each year. In contrast, UK fishing boats landed 90,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth about £100 million, caught elsewhere in EU waters each year, on average.

Among other findings were:

  • More than half of the megrim, plaice and saithe, three-quarters of the common (Dover) sole, hake, herring and skates and rays, 83 per cent of the horse mackerel and 94 per cent of the blue whiting landed from the United Kingdom’s EEZ by European Union fishing boats were caught by non-UK boats.
  • More than half (51 per cent) of the fish and shellfish landed from the Scottish part of the UK EEZ was caught by non-UK boats.
  • Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of the fish and shellfish landed from the English, Welsh and Northern Irish part of the UK EEZ was caught by non-UK boats.

Responding to the report, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: “This detailed analysis of these landing figures is a bombshell that reveals the truly shocking extent of how our rich fishing grounds have been given away in recent decades.

“The UK and Scottish Governments must take heed of the startling figures contained within this report and work together as a team to ensure that the best possible deal is reached for our hardworking fishermen. It would be a monumental betrayal of our coastal communities if this opportunity was traded away in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

“Brexit has the real potential to turn Scotland into a world leading sustainable seafood harvesting and exporting nation.”

Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said: “This report confirms the view of the entire Scottish fishing industry that Brexit creates a sea of opportunity for island and coastal communities throughout the UK.

“Once out of Europe, the UK will have the right to manage its own waters as it sees fit and control access to them.

“The report shows just how strong a bargaining position we have. We should deny access to our rich and productive fishing grounds to any country not prepared to offer something in return, and by that I mean fairer shares of scientifically agreed quotas.

“We urge the UK and Scottish governments to use their strength in this area to restore pride and dynamism to an industry so cynically sacrificed upon EU entry all those years ago.”

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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