Behind the Headlines

Millionaires hoarding UK fishing rights

Written on 02/06/2019

What’s the story?

An investigation by Greenpeace has revealed that 29% of the UK’s fishing quota is held or controlled by five of the country’s wealthiest families, driving smaller-scale local fishermen out of business. Read more in Unearthed here

How reliable is it?

Quite reliable. The report demonstrates that around 29% of the UK’s fishing quota is indeed controlled by five families, and two-thirds by just 25 businesses. It is the UK government -- not Brussels -- that decides how to share out the UK quota.

What’s the background?

• At the annual December Agriculture and Fisheries Council, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) or ‘quotas’ for each member country are agreed upon for the following year by government ministers from all member countries. Evidence
• These decisions are based on scientific studies into sustainability of fish stocks, as well as industry needs and concerns. Evidence
• How the member countries then divide their quota internally, to ensure fair access to fish stocks for their fishers, varies greatly from country to country. Evidence
• In the UK, the Marine Management Organisation, a non-departmental public body, is responsible for managing the UK fisheries quota.  Evidence
• The MMO divides the UK quota between three sectors: the under 10 metre fleet, larger non-sector vessels and Producer Organisations (POs). Evidence
• The Producer Organisations are granted the vast majority of the UK quota and manage and allocate quota on behalf of their members. Evidence
• It is therefore entirely within the UK’s power to choose how it divides its fisheries quota. Evidence
• However, there are also non-quota species, such as scallop, crab, lobster and squid. Evidence
• Therefore, leaving the European Union will not lead to fairer distribution of fishing quotas, as these decisions are made by the UK Marine Management Organisation already. Evidence
Photo credit: Oliver Dixon - CC BY-SA 2.0,