Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Open letter from NAPA to politicians, calling for concrete action on quota sharing and sustainable pelagics management at upcoming TAC allocation talks


Dear Minister,

Another reminder from the global marketplace for seafood: we need to see sustainable fishing in the Northeast Atlantic.

As a collective of over 50 global businesses with a €800 million share of Northeast Atlantic pelagic seafood purchasing, the North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group (NAPA) is directly invested in the responsible, science-driven management of Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandian herring, and Northeast Atlantic blue whiting.

At the Coastal States meetings in October 2021, all parties agreed that total allowable catches for 2022 will be in line with the scientific advice for each stock. We also understand that quota sharing discussions are due to resume in February 2022. NAPA welcomes these early indications of progress, but there is still much work to be done to ensure sustainably managed fisheries.

Worryingly, we have learned that some Coastal States have already set quotas for 2022 for some or all of these fisheries in advance of the sharing discussions. How does this lead to sustainable management?

Setting catch levels above the established scientific advice for these stocks, year on year, is an unacceptable threat to shared-stock fisheries. We want to underscore in the strongest terms that the current situation in the Northeast Atlantic is environmentally unsustainable.

So far, Coastal States have proven incapable of reaching agreements over quota setting, leading to unilateral decisions that have derailed sustainability and stripped these fisheries of their Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifications. What’s more, your inaction is driving the supply chain to re-think their purchasing decisions. To date, 21 NAPA partners have made public statements setting out the consequences of continued management failure:

  • Nine companies will review their sourcing,
  • Five will no longer source from these fisheries,
  • Four will only source from Coastal States acting ‘responsibly’, and
  • Three noted the negative business impacts they would face.

The solutions are laid-out in long-term management strategies, based on robust science and designed to ensure responsible, ethical, sustainable seafood for consumers. We want to see Coastal States taking a leadership position and committing to science-based management.

In advance of next month’s quota sharing discussions, we are calling on you to work constructively – to prioritise resolving allocation issues to ensure the overall catch for each stock does not overstep the scientific advice.

We are calling on you to back the drive for sustainable pelagic fisheries, and ensure that your position at the upcoming sharing discussions will testify to that commitment.


The North Atlantic Pelagic Advocacy Group