Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Scottish Government has announced amendments to the economic link license condition contained in all Scottish over 10 metre vessel sea fisheries licences.

Currently, Scottish vessels landing more than 2 tonnes of species subject to total allowable catch (TACs) are required to demonstrate a real economic link to the United Kingdom in one of the following ways:

      • by landing 50% of quota stocks caught in any calendar year into UK ports (“the landings target”);
      • by employing crew 50% of whom normally reside in the UK;
      • by incurring 50% of operating expenditure in the UK; or
      • if a licence holder fails to meets any of these options, or a combination thereof, they are required to provide quota to their relevant authority – so called “Gifted Quota”.

In the 2017 consultation, the Scottish Government proposed to make the following amendments to the economic link licence condition:

      • remove the options for demonstrating compliance through crewing and operating expenditure;
      • change the landings target so that landings must be made into Scotland rather than into the UK;
      • increase the landings target to 55% of all quota species caught, with transitional arrangements proposed for pelagic species so that for pelagic species, there would be an initial landings target of 30% in 2018, 40% in 2019 and then 55% by 2020; and,
      • continue to offer the option of gifting quota as an alternative to meeting the landings target but having adjusted the formula used to estimate a suitable quota gift to better reflect the Gross Value Added (GVA) from fishing.


The Scottish Government will introduce the following amendments to economic link arrangements from 1 January 2023:

      • landings into Scotland will form the main basis for compliance with the economic link licence condition;
      • the options for demonstrating compliance through crewing and/or operating expenditure will no longer be available;
      • the option to gift quota in lieu of landings into Scotland will continue with the formula used to estimate a suitable quota gift amended to better reflect the GVA from fishing;
      • the minimum level for qualifying for economic link criteria will increase from landings of two tonnes to landings of 10 tonnes;
      • the required rate to satisfy the landings target will increase from 50% to 55% for demersal and shellfish stocks covered by the provision;
      • the landings target rate for pelagic species will be phased in and increased to 55% over a three year period. This will see the introduction of the following landings targets for pelagic species:
        • 30% landings in 2023
        • 40% landings in 2024
        • 55% landings in 2025
      • the landings target will only cover the eight most important species, by landed value, into Scotland. These are – herring, mackerel, Nephrops, haddock, monkfish, cod, hake and whiting (“the 8 key species”) which account for 90% of the value of total landings by Scottish vessels of TAC stocks.

The policy will be kept under review and may be amended if required.


Here is the full report