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EU and UK set quotas that will continue overfishing of some much-loved fish

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On 21 December, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on 2022 fishing limits for shared fish populations in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. The fisheries agreement for 2022 includes 65 TACs for jointly managed fish populations and provisions for the exploitation of non-quota stocks as well.

This is the second post-Brexit agreement on catch limits, known as Total Allowable Catches (TACs), which are adopted under the terms of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

“We welcome this agreement on catch limits for 2022 and the continued commitment of the EU and the UK to cooperate on fisheries management despite other related disputes, such as the Jersey conflict on fishing licences,” said Vera Coelho, Oceana’s senior director of advocacy in Europe. “This agreement provides stability for the respective fleets during 2022. However, the agreed ambition expressed in the TCA, was that of recovering shared fish populations and maintaining them above healthy levels. This is lacking in the current agreement as certain fish populations, like West of Scotland herring, Irish Sea whiting or Celtic Sea cod, will continue to be overexploited in 2022.”

Background

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A UK fisheries audit[1] released by Oceana early this year shows that only around 43% of fish stocks shared among the UK and the EU are known to be exploited at sustainable levels, whereas the rest of the stocks are either overfished or their exploitation status is unknown.

The first post-Brexit agreement between the EU and UK on fisheries management measures for 2021 was reached in June 2021. Because negotiations were long and complex, and in order to provide continuity to fishing activities, both parties had to adopt provisional measures for the first half of 2021 that were later replaced by the agreement.

The annual consultations to agree fisheries management measures for 2022 started on 11 November 2021 and should have concluded on 20 December, in line with the deadline set in the TCA.

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NGO recommendations to the EU (link) and the UK (link) on the setting of fishing opportunities for 2022

Oceana’s UK Fisheries Audit 2021 https://europe.oceana.org/en/uk-fisheries-audit-2021  

EU and UK agreement on 2021 fishing limits: a promising sign of cooperation, but still falling short on the science

Oceana warns UK and EU must ‘walk the talk’ if new Brexit deal is to protect fish stocks

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