Traditionally, every December sees the culmination of the annual round of TAC (Total Allowable Catch) negotiations in Brussels. There, Fisheries Ministers from throughout the EU meet to discuss proposals from the European Commission regarding the volume of a large variety of fish and shellfish species that maybe removed from the sea, as well as the time fishing vessels may spend at sea.
The quota year runs from 1st January to 31st December and when decisions have been reached at a European level, the quotas are then shared out amongst EU Member States and some other countries on the basis on historic catches of each species in each sea area.
Within the UK, the quotas are then further sub-divided amongst the various Fish Producer Organisations and other groupings on the basis of their members fixed share of the UK quota.
Until the beginning of 2006 the ANIFPO managed its quotas be means of a “pool system”, which meant that all member vessels put their share of the UK’s quotas into a communal PO pool. However, since 2006 the ANIFPO has managed it’s quotas by means of an Individual Transferrable Quota (ITQ) system, whereby each member vessel is allocated a total quota at the start of the year, which is set on the basis of its own fixed share of the UK quota.
During the year members can swap quota between themselves, or with the members of other UK Fish Producer Organisations. In consultation with the PO they can purchase or lease additional quota and dispose of quota that is surplus to their requirements. There is no minimum entry level for membership of the PO. However, no member can fish for any fish/shellfish species without acquiring quota for that species.
The aim is to create a transparent quota management system within the PO and foster a greater sense of responsibility through the sustainable management of fisheries resources. Over the past few years, many members of the Organisation have invested in the future of their fishing businesses by purchasing additional quota. While seeking a fair deal for all, the goal of the Organisation is to minimise the cost of quota, while maximising the value of the landed catch.
With its member vessels the ANIFPO manages nearly 100 quota species in the Irish Sea, North Sea, West of Scotland and beyond. Whilst the majority of fishing effort is used in the Irish Sea, member vessels fish in all of the seas around the United Kingdom and Ireland.
For more information on the UK’s quota management rules and weekly quota uptakes, please go to the DEFRA’s Sea Fisheries web site.