EU vessels landing even more from UK waters
Catches up 60% from 2011-2018 – UK up only 17%
EU vessels have been increasing the amount of fish they catch in UK waters at a much faster rate than the UK’s own boats, according to a new in-depth report.
Analysis of official landings data carried out for the Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) shows that between 2011 and 2018, vessels from the EU member states landed 60% more fish and shellfish from the UK exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while UK boats landed just 17% more.
For pelagic species such as mackerel and herring, the increase was even more marked, with EU vessels landing 159% more fish from the UK EEZ over the same period compared with just 60% more for UK boats.
Catches in the UK EEZ have been increasing as a reflection of improved stocks across a broad range of species.
The analysis, carried out by Dr Ian Napier of the NAFC Marine Centre UHI, based in Scalloway, highlights the huge disparity between overseas vessels, which landed more than two-thirds of the 2m tonnes of fish worth £1.7bn caught in the UK EEZ in 2018, and UK boats.
Simon Collins, SFA executive officer, said: “If ever there was a case for the UK escaping the iron grip of the Common Fisheries Policy, this is it.
“Not content with the fact that overseas vessels were already taking two-thirds of what should be a national natural resource, administrators have gunned the system to ensure that EU27 vessels in particular have taken the biggest share of the increase in catches that have come about due to stock improvements in recent years.
“The UK’s assertion of sovereignty over its own waters at the end of this year will allow us at last to address this outrageous imbalance. Independent coastal states cannot be pushed around in this manner.”
Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said: “Dr Napier’s report draws attention to the growing inequity of distribution of catching opportunity between the UK on the one hand and the EU27 on the other.
“It is this imbalance that the Scottish industry has campaigned steadfastly to bring to an end with the UK leaving the CFP and becoming an independent, sovereign coastal state with full control over access to our waters.”
Dr Napier’s figures also show that around half of the demersal or whitefish stocks caught in the UK EEZ in 2018 – a total of 250,000t worth more than £500m – were landed by non-UK vessels.
Meanwhile, 1.4m tonnes of pelagic fish worth £760m were landed from the UK EEZ. More than three-quarters of this total volume – and two-thirds by value – was landed by non-UK vessels.
In a summary of the findings, the NAFC report says it is estimated that almost 2m tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth £1.7bn, were landed from the UK EEZ in 2018. More than two-thirds of that total – or more than half by value – was landed by non-UK boats.
- UK boats’ share of the landings from the UK EEZ declined by 16% from 2015 to 2018. EU27 boats’ share also fell over this period, but by only 3%, while the share taken by all non-UK boats increased by 8%.
- Just over 250,000t of demersal fish worth more than £500m were landed from the UK EEZ in 2018. About half of that total (by weight or value) was landed by non-UK boats.
- Almost 1.4m tonnes of pelagic fish, worth about £760m, were landed from the UK EEZ in 2018. More than three-quarters of that total (or two-thirds by value) were landed by non-UK boats.
- Just over 150,000t of shellfish worth almost £390m were landed from the UK EEZ in 2018. Most of that total – more than 80% – was landed by UK boats.
- About 180,000t of industrial species such as sandeels, worth about £38m, were landed from the UK EEZ in 2018. Almost all of that (98%) was landed by non-UK boats.
The total quantity of fish and shellfish landed from the UK EEZ by UK boats increased by about 17% over the eight years from 2011 to 2018, while landings by EU27 boats increased by over 60% over the same period. UK boats’ landings of pelagic fish from the UK EEZ increased by about 40% from 2011 to 2018, while landings by EU27 boats increased by 159%.
UK boats landed a total of about 700,000t of fish and shellfish, worth about £1bn, in 2018. Most of that total (80%) was caught in the UK EEZ – 15% (9% by value) was landed from elsewhere in the EU EEZ.
- Pelagic fish accounted for just over half of the landings by UK boats in 2018, demersal fish about one-quarter, and shellfish slightly less. By value, the landings were roughly equally split between the three species groups.
- Pelagic fish accounted for almost three-quarters of UK boats’ landings from elsewhere in the EU27 EEZ, with the balance roughly equally split between demersal fish and shellfish. By value, demersal fish accounted for almost half of UK boats’ landings from the EU27 EEZ, and shellfish for about one-third.
- Most of UK boats’ landings from the EU27 EEZ were from the EEZ of Ireland, followed by that of France, although some individual demersal species were caught mainly in the EEZs of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Some individual pelagic species, as well as a large proportion of the shellfish, were caught mainly in the EEZ of France.
Overall, EU27 boats landed more than eight times more fish and shellfish from the UK EEZ in 2018 (860,000t) than UK boats landed from the EU27 EEZ (100,000t). By value, EU27 boats’ landings were more than six times greater.
Dr Napier’s report, ‘Fish Landings from the UK EEZ 2015-2018’ can be read at: https://bit.ly/2BTnCDn