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In Scotland, a new package worth up to £2 million, aimed at helping the industry during the coronavirus (COVID-19), means that Scottish vessels will be able to diversify into new markets and access additional fish quotas around the North Sea and west coast of Scotland.

Scotland’s seafood fishing sector has been one of the hardest hit due to the collapse of the international shellfish market, causing significant challenges for families, businesses and local communities in some of the most remote rural and island communities.

Pittenweem Harbour - Image: SFF

This additional quota will help many of those fishers and includes:

An additional 800 tonnes of mackerel - 500 tonnes in the North Sea and 300 tonnes in the west coast.

Additional demersal quotas including haddock, anglerfish, whiting, pollack, saithe, ling, lemon sole and skates and rays for the North Sea and west of Scotland.

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said, “Fishing in our inshore waters for shellfish is a longstanding and lucrative part of our wider fishing industry but the loss of markets practically overnight due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many businesses tieing up their vessels.

“With continued uncertainty regarding future market access and demand, this additional £2 million of potential fishing opportunities will provide scope for some vessels to diversify, and help families and businesses in our coastal communities. It also has the potential to ensure that more people in the UK get to enjoy locally and sustainably caught fish from our waters and I hope retailers will play their part in making that happen.

“This support is in addition to the £22.5 million that has already been made available by the Scottish Government to the seafood industry, and which was already the largest support package in the UK.”

The quota applies to fishing vessels that are not members of a producer organisation and is not restricted by vessel length.

Additional demersal quotas for the North Sea and West of Scotland include:

North Sea (IV): Haddock (120t), Whiting (260t), Saithe (120t), Lemon Sole (50t), Ling (30t) and Skates & Rays (20t)
West Coast (VI): Anglerfish (15t), Pollack (25t), Ling (50t) and Skates & Rays (25t)

Access to all of these quotas will continue to be managed by catch limits which will be adjusted on a regular basis, and under a continuation of otherwise normal management arrangements for the non-sector.

Any unused quota will be allocated later in the year to producer organisations.


According to reports in the USA President Donald Trump has announced that he will open up a 5,000 square mile conservation area in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England to commercial fishing.

The move allows commercial fishing to resume in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a sanctuary created in 2016 during the Obama administration. It also cancels a planned phase out of red crab and lobster fisheries in the area. Trump signed a proclamation on opening the area during a visit to Maine in his latest move to appeal to working class and blue collar workers in an election year by touting regulatory rollbacks that he says can restore jobs and economic activity.

“We’re cutting regulations from highways and roadways to fish,” Trump said at a roundtable event in Bangor. Trump, who won in Maine’s rural 2nd Congressional district in the 2016 election, also announced he would create a task force to identify international markets for U.S. seafood.

Environmental groups and some recreational fishermen warned that allowing commercial fishing in these areas undermines the protections established by the monument designations, putting marine wildlife, including endangered whales and sea turtles, sharks and fragile corals in danger of harm and entanglement in fishing nets.

“These are fragile and vulnerable resources, and I am concerned for their future health,” said Rip Cunningham, former chair of the New England Fishery Management Council.

The commercial seafood industry and regional fishery management councils have pressed the Trump administration to restore commercial fishing in federal waters closed off under monument protections, citing the regulatory burden that they say forces fishermen to travel further with increased operational expenses and safety risks. Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobsterman’s Association who attended the roundtable, said the monument’s restrictions on commercial fishing were done without the industry’s input. “Fishermen needed to have input into this and we didn’t,” he said.

In 2017, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had recommended that Trump allow commercial fishing in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument. His recommendations came during a sweeping review of national monuments across the country that had been created by previous presidents under the Antiquities Act.

So far Trump has only proceeded to reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase monuments, while leaving the other monuments intact. The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase decisions are now being challenged in court.