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Subject specific Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive on fisheries

1. This document is a subject specific concordat, as referred to in paragraph 2 of the Main Concordat between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Scottish Executive (SE). The Main Concordat between MAFF and the SE applies in the fisheries sector. The following paragraphs elaborate on a number of matters specific to the fisheries sector.

Ministerial meetings with the fishing industry

2. In order to ensure that there is a systematic basis for Ministers to be kept in touch with fishing industry views on policy developments it is envisaged that, in addition to less formal contacts, MAFF Ministers will convene meetings as follows:

High Level Meeting

To be chaired by the MAFF Minister or MAFF Fisheries Minister and include participation by Ministers from other parts of the UK, and officials from the respective Fisheries Departments. Representatives of the fishing industry and related interests, including environmental interests, will be drawn from across the UK. The meeting will consider matters of major policy concern across the UK. It will normally meet at least once each year.

Pre-Fisheries Council Meetings

Before each meeting of the Fisheries Council the MAFF Minister acting as leader of the UK delegation will meet industry representatives from all parts of the UK along with Ministers and officials from the respective administrations to establish industry views on matters arising at the Council.

B. Sea fisheries

3. The functions of sea fisheries management include the regulation of the UK fishing fleet through

  • licensing fishing boats,
  • the management of fish quotas and of fishing effort,
  • technical conservation rules (eg concerning fishing gears, minimum landing sizes and closed areas),
  • structural measures in relation to the fleet and onshore fishing industry, and
  • the regulation of fish markets.

These tasks are underpinned by scientific and statistical monitoring of the fisheries and through the implementation and enforcement of regulations concerning fishing and the fisheries sector.

Sea fish licensing

4. The existing policy on licensing of sea fishing has been set down in successive Government statements. There is a closed system of licences such that the issue of fishing licences depends on the existence of a current licence or the surrender of existing licences. There are separate arrangements for certain localised fisheries and for distant water fisheries; and there are rules on the transfer or aggregation of licences. The conditions of licences are, in all essential respects, common throughout the UK so enabling licences to be transferable throughout the UK. There are no plans to change these features as a result of devolution. Thus the creation of devolved administrations does not in itself entail changes in existing licensing policy and vessel owners will continue to be free to register their vessels at ports throughout the UK. MAFF will be responsible for licensing fishing vessels registered at ports in England to fish in all waters and for licensing vessels to fish in local fisheries in the “English zone”; and the SE will be responsible for licensing fishing vessels registered at ports in Scotland to fish in all waters and for licensing vessels to fish in local fisheries in the Scottish zone. Agency arrangements will apply in order that SE may grant a MAFF licence to a vessel registered in England but administered in Scotland and so that MAFF can issue Scottish licences in appropriate circumstances. There shall be mutual recognition of each others licences on this basis and administrative arrangements to facilitate the issue of licences and licence variations to fishermen shall be consistent. Both parties agree to maintain the integrity of the UK licensing system, having regard to its importance for meeting UK obligations on structural reductions in fishing effort, for management of UK fish quotas and UK fishing effort. Both parties agree to consult each other in advance of any proposals to change existing licensing arrangements or to introduce new measures. Both parties agree to share information on the issue of licences and licence transactions and to participate in maintaining licensing information on the Core Licensing System.

5. Officials in MAFF, the SE and representatives from Northern Ireland and Wales will meet at least once every 12 months to review the operation of fishing vessel licensing arrangements in the UK and its adequacy in meeting UK obligations within the EC and to discuss issues of mutual concern. These meetings may also involve the Fisheries Inspectorates.

Quota management

6. Quotas are allocated under the CFP to the UK and are managed by Fisheries Departments in the UK on a UK basis in order to comply with CFP rules. The current arrangements provide for managing the uptake of UK quotas, by allocating these quotas to producer organisations (POs) recognised for the purposes of quota management and to the sector of vessels which are not members of POs (the “non-sector”), in accordance with published rules agreed with the UK industry; and by monitoring fish landings so as to be able to close fisheries as quotas are exhausted. There are no plans to change current arrangements as a result of devolution and MAFF will continue to administer the allocation and management of quotas to English POs (including the Anglo-Scottish PO) while the SE will continue to administer Scottish POs. Similarly, MAFF will continue to administer the distant water fisheries except that by agreement SE will take the lead on UK quotas at Faroes and in the Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery. Decisions on matters impacting on quota management (including the closure of fisheries, whether by licence variation or by other means, inter-PO swaps and international quota swaps) will be the subject of prior consultation between the relevant officials. Both sides agree to the timely and efficient exchange of information on fish landings and to co-operate in effecting prompt closure of fisheries.

7. There will be a meeting of officials in MAFF and the SE and representatives from Northern Ireland and Wales at least once every 12 months to review the operation of quota management in the UK and to discuss issues of mutual concern. The meetings will also involve fisheries statisticians and Fisheries Inspectorates.

8. There will also be a meeting of the Fisheries Departments with representatives of the UK fishing industry at least once a year to discuss quota management and the quota management rules for the following quota year.

9. During the course of each quota year, monthly meetings will normally be held by representatives of the Fisheries Departments with industry representatives to consider and agree monthly catch limits for the non sector.

Fishing effort

10. The UK has obligations to report details of its fishing fleet to the EU and, under MAGP IV, to meet objectives by a combination of fleet capacity and effort reductions. Both parties agree to share common information on the UK fishing fleet including data provided by the Registry of Shipping and Seamen. MAFF will report this information to the Commission. Both parties will co-operate in ensuring consistent information is made available on a vessel by vessel basis to segment annually the UK fishing fleet, consistent with MAGP requirements. Both parties agree to maintain a UK basis for managing fishing effort and to share information on fishing effort. In consultation with other Fisheries Departments, MAFF will compile the annual estimates of capacity by segment and effort by segment and report to the EU on progress with the MAGP. Fishing effort is managed through sea fishing licences and in certain cases through groups. Both parties will co-operate in allocating fishing effort to groups and in monitoring effort uptake, to meet MAGP IV objectives. SE will take the lead for the pelagic segment and MAFF for the beam trawl segment. There will be a meeting of Fisheries Departments at least annually to review progress in monitoring fishing effort and UK compliance with MAGP IV or other structural targets.

11. The UK has obligations to manage fishing effort in Western Waters. Both parties agree to maintain a UK basis for managing such effort, through sea fishing licences. MAFF will compile the estimates of UK uptake of effort in Western Waters, based on the activity information both parties agree to maintain and share. MAFF will report these data to the Commission.

Technical conservation

12. Technical conservation rules (concerning fishing gear, closed areas and minimum landing sizes, for example) are based primarily on EU regulations. Member States may impose more restrictive requirements on their own fishermen subject to clearance by the Commission. Both parties agree to consult each other about any proposals for such measures. Once measures are decided MAFF is the channel for arranging clearance with the Commission on behalf of the UK.

13. The existing Fisheries Conservation Group will continue, including officials from all four Fisheries Departments as well as fisheries scientists and industry representatives from the different parts of the UK. Representatives of the Fisheries Inspectorates will also participate. The group will meet at least once each year in order to develop policy on technical conservation matters for the UK as a whole.

Structural aid

14. The UK has obligations under MAGP IV to reduce fishing effort by, among other methods, reductions in fishing capacity; it is bound by EU rules on state aids to the fisheries sector; and may offer structural aids in accordance with programmes approved by the Commission for disbursement of EU Structural Funds. Both parties agree to consult each other in advance about any new proposals for structural measures in relation to the fishing fleet or programmes of aid to the onshore fishing industry or other measures which might constitute state aids. MAFF is the channel for notifying the Commission of all state aids provided in any part of the UK.

15. The UK Monitoring Committee for Fisheries Structures will normally meet twice each year to monitor the operation of the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance. Participation will include all the UK Fisheries Departments and the European Commission.

16. The UK PESCA Monitoring Committee will normally meet twice each year to monitor the operation of PESCA in the UK. Participation will include all the UK Fisheries Departments and the European Commission.

Regulation of the fisheries market

17. EU rules regulating the marketing of fish products provide for the recognition of producers organisations, the operation of withdrawal and other financial aid schemes at markets, and rules on trade in fish products. POs have important functions in the UK in managing quotas and fishing effort; and some POs have membership from diverse areas. Both parties agree that the formal recognition of any new PO and the supervision of the operations of existing POs reflect arrangements for quota management and consultation will take place to ensure that common criteria are applied regarding recognition and supervision. Both parties agree that the administration of financial and withdrawal schemes at fish markets will be the responsibility of the Intervention Board. Both parties agree to share information on the fisheries market, including fish prices, and on fish trade.

Sea Fish Industry Authority

18. The SFIA is a non-Departmental public body (NDPB) with functions that apply to devolved matters that are exercised in all parts of the UK. It is therefore identified as a cross-border public authority, by Order under Section 88 of the Scotland Act; and an Order to establish powers of Scottish Ministers in relation to the authority has been made under Section 89 to provide for the majority of functions exercised by Ministers under the 1981 Act to be exercised jointly. In practice, MAFF will continue to take the day to day lead in the exercise of Departmental and Ministerial functions in relation to the SFIA, in consultation with the SE and subject to the terms of the Section 89 Order.

Inshore fisheries

19. Different legal frameworks and management arrangements apply to inshore fisheries within 12 miles in England and Scotland. Both parties agree to consult each other in advance of new proposals for inshore fisheries management. Once measures are decided MAFF is the channel for arranging clearance with the Commission on behalf of the UK.

C.Salmon and freshwater fisheries

20. Different legal frameworks and management arrangements exist in England and Scotland for salmon and freshwater fisheries. However, regulatory measures on salmon and seatrout beyond baselines fall within the ambit of the CFP, and the UK, through its membership of the EU, is a member of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO). MAFF is responsible for notifying the Commission of any regulatory measures under the CFP and for co-ordinating the UK position within NASCO. Both parties agree to co-operate closely on matters relating to NASCO and international aspects of salmon management. MAFF and Scottish Executive officials will meet annually with their counterparts from Northern Ireland and Wales to consider issues relating to the management of salmon fisheries, particularly those of significance within NASCO.

21. The Scotland Act establishes special arrangements for the regulation of salmon and freshwater fisheries in the Border Rivers, including the Inner Solway. Both parties agree that the management of salmon and freshwater fisheries in these rivers will continue to be undertaken on a catchment basis, making use as necessary of the powers contained in the Scotland Act. Both parties will ensure that the other is notified of developments that may affect the regulation and management of freshwater fisheries in the Border Rivers, and will inform the other at the earliest opportunity of any proposals for new legislation or for measures that will require the consent of MAFF and Scottish Ministers. The appropriate MAFF and Scottish Executive officials will meet at least once a year to review the management of salmon and freshwater fisheries in the Border Rivers.

D. Enforcement

22. MAFF will be responsible for enforcing fisheries regulations in the English and Welsh zone of British Fisheries Limits, while the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA), an agency of the Scottish Executive, will be responsible for enforcement within the Scottish zone. In international waters enforcement will be the responsibility of the relevant enforcement body in relation to the registered vessels from its territory (unless other arrangements are agreed). Both parties agree to co-operate in the enforcement of EU regulations, by:

(a) seeking to maintain a consistent and sound legal framework for the enforcement of EU law throughout UK waters;

(b) co-ordinating their surveillance and inspection operations where appropriate;

(c) exchanging information in relation to fishing operations and the enforcement task;

(d) providing evidence and witnesses to support prosecutions;

(e) arranging joint training exercises;

(f) providing and sharing the information needed to meet EU and international requirements.

23. The Chief Inspector of Fisheries (MAFF), the Head of Fisheries IV (MAFF) and the Chief Executive of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (Scottish Executive) will meet at least once each year with representatives from Northern Ireland and Wales in order to review the UKs fisheries enforcement and to discuss issues of mutual concern.

E. Other fisheries matters

Fisheries monitoring and science

24. Subject to any wider concordat on science, and to the main concordat, both parties agree that publicly funded work on the monitoring of fisheries and on scientific research should continue to be managed by MAFF and the SE collaboratively. The Fisheries Science Customer Group will meet annually to keep under review Fisheries Departments requirements for science in relation to marine and inland fisheries with a view in particular to ensuring that UK resources are effectively targeted, there is no wasteful duplication and no significant gaps in the science commissioned by Fisheries Departments and that there is adequate co-ordination with other relevant UK and EU science programmes. It will be chaired alternately by MAFF and the SE. All four Fisheries Departments will be invited to participate. Both parties agree that their respective fisheries science agencies (CEFAS and FRS) will co-operate to support MAFF and the SE by:

(a) providing advice and exchanging scientific information on fish stocks, and in other areas, such as fish capture, the environment, and fish diseases;

(b) at the request of MAFF representing the UK in meetings of ICES and other international scientific fora;

(c) providing technical services to each other;

(d) providing without charge expert evidence for prosecutions.

Statistics and information systems

25. In addition to any central concordat on statistics both parties agree to maintain close co-operation in the preparation and publication of fisheries statistics: to share statistical information required for the formulation of policy; and in particular to ensure that there is prompt and accurate submission of UK fisheries statistics to the EU. MAFF will inform SE of EU or other meetings where statistics are to be discussed and the SE will attend as appropriate. A working group on statistics consisting of representatives of the four Fisheries Departments will meet at least annually to facilitate co-operation. Unless it is otherwise agreed, all statistics for submission to the EU will be co-ordinated and submitted by MAFF. Given the importance of IT systems for effective fisheries management, both parties agree to prior consultation and co-operation on intended changes to IT systems, where these contribute information to meet UK requirements or impact on the statistical requirements of both parties.

Service arrangements

26. MAFF and the SE may provide each other with administrative, scientific and technical services, where appropriate, to ensure that the respective responsibilities of each may be effectively discharged.

Responsibility for meetings

27. Unless otherwise agreed the various management and review meetings described in this document will be convened and chaired by MAFF, by virtue of its lead role in EU matters.

Reporting and communicating with the European Commission

8. As indicated throughout this document, MAFF will be the normal channel for reporting to the Commission. However in relevant circumstances, by prior agreement SE may report data or seek clearance of a particular measure direct to the Commission (or through UKREP). The reporting Department will advise the other of any communication with the Commission.

Consultation with the fishing industry

29. MAFF and the SE will consult each other before embarking on any consultation exercise with the fishing industry on matters which may be of mutual concern.

Costs of fisheries management

30. MAFF and the SE will be responsible for meeting the costs of managing and enforcing fisheries in line with their respective responsibilities and in relation to the licensing of their respective fishing fleets, including the additional costs of implementing new international obligations, subject to any agency or other arrangements that may be agreed.

Scheme costs

31. The costs of schemes applying to the fisheries sector will be met by the authority in whose territory the beneficiary is based unless other arrangements have been made.

Resolution of disputes

32. In the first instance efforts will be made at Fisheries Secretary level to resolve problems or disputes. Failing resolution, matters will be put to Ministers.

Review

33. A meeting will take place twice each year at Fisheries Secretary level, including representatives of all four Fisheries Departments, to review the operation of this concordat. Exceptional meetings will be convened if necessary.

Future changes to fisheries management arrangements

34. This concordat describes the arrangements that will apply from the devolution date of 1 July 1999. It does not preclude any subsequent change to the functions and supporting arrangements that any of the Fisheries Ministers may wish to make within their appropriate competence. In the event of any such change being proposed there will be full consultation between both parties to the concordat.

Page published: 11 November 1999