Quota management, cod conservation measures and vessel licensing policy

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for the development of policy relating to quota management, cod conservation measures and vessel licensing for the Northern Ireland sea fishing industry.

Quota management

Fish quotas are the amounts of different species of fish that may be legally landed by EU Member States.  The UK Government is the allocating authority for UK Fish Quotas which are allocated annually. The UK Government apportions the fish quotas amongst the four UK Fisheries Administrations (i.e. Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales) pro-rata to the Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) units associated with the licences administered by each Administration. 

Each of the four Fisheries Administrations (FAs) allocates quota to its fishermen.  In Northern Ireland these allocations are made by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) according to the FQA method.  In the UK most of the quota is allocated by the FAs to Fish Producer Organisations (POs).  POs are quota management and marketing organisations made up of member fishing vessels and they manage their members’ quotas on their behalf.  There are two POs administered directly by DAERA.  Quota allocations made to Northern Ireland POs are within their control subject to UK and Northern Ireland quota management rules.  FAs monitor quota uptake and ‘close’ fisheries when POs have taken their allocation.

Vessels which are not in the membership of a PO are known as Non-sector vessels.  Non-sector vessels (over 10 metre vessels and 10 metre and under vessels) are managed directly by DAERA.  These vessels fish against monthly catch limits set by DAERA.  These limits are enforced in fishing vessel licences.

Quota use statistics

Details of UK Quota use statistics (provided by Marine Management Organisation) for Producer Organisations (the Sector) and the Non-Sector including the 10 metre and under Pool can be accessed at the link below:

A brief overview of the NI Sea Fishing Sector in 2015 & 2016 can be accessed at the link below:

Quota management rules

All UK vessels, including those in POs, are subject to Quota management rules:

Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) Register

The Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) Register was produced as a result of close collaboration between all the UK fisheries administrations, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and reflects a commitment made by UK fisheries ministers under the concordat on fisheries management agreed in May 2012.

The aim of the register is to provide greater transparency around who has access to fish quota within the UK, as well as improving fisheries management by helping the industry to make better use of quota.  

Further information is available on the FQA Register website or by accessing the following documents.

Cod conservation measures

Members States agreed to the revised Cod Recovery Plan in 2016 which contains a commitment to maintain and develop cod conservation measures

Details of DAERA’s policy on cod conservation measures is available via the link below:

Fishing vessel licensing

DAERA issue and administer vessel licences that all UK fishing vessels are required to have in order to fish for profit.

Details on DAERA’s policy on fishing vessel licensing is available via the link below:

Common Fisheries Policy reform

The New Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation (EU 1380/2013) was formally adopted by the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on 11 December 2013 and applies from 1st January 2014. 

The three most important objectives of the new CFP are:

  • achieving maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for fish stocks
  • commitment to land all fish subject to catch limits (the landing obligation) starting in 2015 and completing by 2019
  • development of measures to acheive the objectives of multiannual plans, conservation measures and discard plans at a regional level

More detail on these key objectives, their implications, and progress towards implementation are available in the briefing note on CFP reform.

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