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Under the the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), every year annual quotas for fish species in EU waters are agreed by Ministers. 2015 is first year that fishing opportunities are being set under the rules of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This note summarises the negotiations and decisions taken over UK fishing quota agreements for 2015.

On 11 December 2014, in the backbench business debate on the fishing industry, Members questioned the Minister on, among other issues, his priorities for the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Meeting on 15/16 December 2014, where annual quotas are agreed. The Minister explained that he was committed to supporting the UK’s world class fishing industry and would aim to deliver a fair deal for UK fishermen.

On 15 and 16 December 2014, the Fisheries Minister Mr George Eustice MP represented the UK at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting alongside representatives from the Scottish and Northern Irish devolved administrations.

These negotiations resulted in agreements to increase quota from 2014 levels for fishermen in several areas, including: North Sea cod 5% and Nephrops (prawns) 15%. The Government also negotiated for reduced quota cuts in other areas, for instance initial proposals would have seen Celtic Sea cod quotas cut by 64%, but this was reduced to 26%. 2014 quotas for a number of stocks were maintained for 2015 in several instances. There was, however, no agreement on measures to arrest the decline in sea bass stocks.

Negotiations with the Faroe Islands delivered additional quota and opportunities in Faroese waters and an early agreement with Norway on fishing opportunities in the North Sea will see a quota rise in haddock and cod in 2015.

The Government hailed the quota agreements as a fair deal, and the National Fisherman’s’ Federation Organisation (NFFO) saw the deal as striking a balance between protecting fishing livelihoods, whilst continuing to rebuild fish stocks. However, environmental groups raised concerns that the deal included fishing quotas above the scientific advice which would fail to adequately protect depleted fishing stocks. Furthermore, angling groups expressed their disappointment that no deal had been reached on bass conservation measures.

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