The UK, Norway and the EU reached a deal Friday to hike 2023 cod quotas in the North Sea by 63 percent to 21,652 metric tons, a move which Scottish fisherman are calling “absolute vindication."

As part of the tripartite agreement on six joint stocks in the North Sea -- including North Sea cod, haddock and herring -- the UK has secured fishing catch limits worth £202 million (€235 million/$248.2 million) to the UK fishing industry, a £33 million (€38.4 million/$40.6 million) increase from last year, said the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

It comes as agreements were also made on mackerel, as well as blue whiting, and atlanto-Scandian herring last week.

In total, UK quota in these stocks will be worth around £256 million (€297.8 million/$314.6 million) to the UK fishing industry next year, according to DEFRA.

Last month, the UK also reached a bilateral agreement on whitefish and pelagic fishing opportunities with Norway, with the UK fleet benefiting from fishing opportunities worth £5 million (€5.8 million/$6.1 million).

Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), said the agreement on North Sea stocks was "heartening" and reflected the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES’s) scientific advice on the shared demersal stocks.

"This vindicates industry’s view that the huge cuts suffered by our fleet over the last three years were not justified," said Macdonald.

"We look forward to a full review of the North Sea cod assessment through the ICES benchmark process early in 2023, and to a future where fishermen’s knowledge and expertise can play a meaningful role in stock assessments and catch advice."

Similarly, Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Simon Collins said the quotas were absolute vindication for skippers who have always argued that cuts to cod quotas in recent years were excessive relative to the abundance of the stock seen on the grounds.

Deficiencies in stock assessment processes are finally being addressed, he added, and the science is now catching up with reality.

"Today’s announcement gives lie to the notion propagated by eNGOs that cod stocks are facing ‘extinction’, or that fish stocks in our seas are in poor shape – when in fact the opposite is true."

The agreed catch levels for North Sea stocks for 2023 are:




% change in total quota


13,246 MT

21,652 MT



44,924 MT

58,402 MT



44,950 MT

53,374 MT



125,962 MT

132,922 MT



26,636 MT

34,294 MT


North Sea herring

427,628 MT

396,556 MT