2022 quotas set for Northeast Atlantic pelagic fisheries, but no agreement on shares

Northeast Atlantic coastal states have reached agreements on the total 2022 catches for mackerel, herring, and blue whiting.

Northeast Atlantic coastal states have reached agreements on the total 2022 catches for mackerel, herring, and blue whiting that follow the advice given by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). However, there is still no accord on how these quotas should be divided up between the fishing nations.

In a statement issued on 28 October, 2021, the Norwegian Ministry of of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs confirmed that alongside the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, it had signed an agreement on a total quota of 794,920 metric tons (MT) of mackerel for 2022. This is in line with ICES recommendation and entails a reduction from the quota for 2021, which was 852,284 MT, it said.

“The scientific advice shows that the mackerel stock is declining, and we have taken this seriously when this year's quota was set,” Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran said.

The ministry also highlighted that the coastal states have agreed to set up a working group to gather information on the spread of mackerel, with the purpose to get “a good basis for further negotiations on quota distribution.”

The working group will present its report no later than 28 February next year, and the parties have agreed to meet in March for further negotiations.

“It is good that the coastal states have set up a working group to look at the spread of mackerel. Good information is a prerequisite for a good agreement on distribution and should be able to help counteract overfishing of mackerel,” Skjæran said.

Meanwhile, an earlier statement from the ministry confirmed agreements had also been made on the total quotas for Norwegian spring-spawning herring and blue whiting of 598,588 MT and 752,736 MT respectively. Again, these catch limits are in line with ICES advice. Skjæran said he was glad that an agreement had been reached on the herring and blue whiting quotas.

“Disagreement over the quota distribution for both of these stocks means that more than the total quota that has been set will be fished again this year. Despite this, both populations are within safe biological limits. We also agree to meet again in early 2022 to start work on the distribution of shares on both blue whiting and herring,” he said.

Norway, the E.U., the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland are coastal states for blue whiting, while the coastal states for herring are Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.

It has also been agreed that the coastal states will establish working groups that will continue the work with zone-affiliation analysis for both blue whiting and herring. With regard to agreements on zone access for Norwegian fishermen in other countries' zones, this will be implemented as bilateral negotiations later in the year, the Norwegian ministry said.

The final quotas for Norwegian fishermen for next year will be ready after the regulations have been determined and there are final figures for quota changes and this year's fishing, it said.

The North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) – a body that represents more than 40 retailers, foodservice companies, and suppliers – has called on the coastal states to follow scientific recommendations, warning that the continuing dispute over the quota allocations of these species has resulted in annual catches well in excess of the advice.

Photo courtesy of Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock


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