Fishing trawler boat

The deal will present UK fishing with opportunities worth over £280m in 2023

Defra has announced the UK fishing industry will benefit from 140,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities next year, following the conclusion of negotiations with the EU.

The deal, announced yesterday, represented a 30,000-tonne increase on pre-Brexit volumes and would present UK boats with opportunities worth over £280m in 2023 in EU waters.

This brought the total value of fishing opportunities secured for the UK fleet in 2023 in the three main negotiation forums to £750m, a £34m increase from last year, Defra said.

The UK and EU agreed catch levels for 69 fish stocks including North Sea nephrops (£54m), anglerfish (£31m) and western hake (£25m).

The agreement has also committed the UK and EU to working together to provide more sustainable fisheries management.

“Our agreement with the EU secures valuable fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry while cementing our joint commitment to manage fisheries sustainably,” commented fisheries minister Mark Spencer. “These decisions are based on the latest scientific advice to help protect key fish stocks with the long-term health of the marine environment at the forefront of our minds.”

However, the agreements have been criticised by ClientEarth, an environmental law charity, which said both the EU and UK had “refused to follow scientific advice” that Irish Sea whiting, Celtic Sea cod and west of Scotland cod should not be caught at all.

“The EU-UK deal is a small step in the right direction, but nowhere near enough to bring depleted cod and whiting stocks back from the brink,” said Jenni Grossmann, ClientEarth fisheries science and policy advisor. “They are the collateral victims of unselective trawls that are sweeping up pretty much everything in their path while trying to catch species like Norway lobster and haddock.

“Despite all proclaimed ambitions at COP15 to protect biodiversity, today’s deal means that genuinely sustainable fishing across the board remains a pipe dream for both the EU and the UK,” she added.

The deal follows an agreement on 9 December between the UK, EU and Norway on six North Sea fish stocks including cod, haddock and herring, worth £202m to the UK fishing industry and a further £11m in stocks in other waters around the UK.

In the same week, the UK secured catch limits worth a further £256m with the North East Atlantic coastal states, while an agreement with Norway last month will enable the UK fishing industry to benefit from opportunities worth £5m in 2023.

“We are backing the fishing industry across the country to succeed, with a landmark £100m investment in infrastructure, skills and better scientific data so that our fishing industry thrives for generations to come,” Spencer added.