The Shark Trust engages with the annual fisheries negotiations between the UK, EU, and Norway which occur every November and December. Throughout the year we contribute to relevant stock assessment processes which underpin the advice presented by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) who give guidance to fisheries managers. The outcome of these negotiations are shared with the fishing industry and enforcement agencies by the Shark Trust via our fisheries advisories.


Last week, the Written Record of fisheries consultations between the United Kingdom and the European Union for 2024 was signed by both parties. These negotiations determine the 2024 Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for Sharks, Skates, and Rays for EU and UK fleets, as well as other species caught by fisheries. The negotiating parties are advised by ICES, who publish the best available scientific data for these species, which should be used to inform sustainable levels of fishing.

Overall, there has been an increase in the TAC for most species. Spurdog has increased by 3% in both areas. This was expected, as the ICES advice for 2024 was slightly higher than that for 2023, and the TAC for both years has matched the catch advice exactly. 1955 t has been set aside for coastal state catches.

The most notable increases are for Skates and Rays in the North Sea and Eastern Channel, with increases of 81% and 76% respectively. This is due to increases in ICES advice for Blonde Ray and Spotted Ray of over 500% and an increase in Thornback Ray of over 100%. These increases are due to a shift from a precautionary approach to a Maximum Sustainable Yield approach, an increase in biomass, and other changes to how the advice is calculated. These species in this area are managed by a group TAC, where catch limits are not set for individual species but rather a group of similar species. However, ICES give advice for individual species, so this is then interpreted for the group TAC through a methodology agreed by the UK and the EU.

In addition, the Written Record will allow scientific observation data collection programmes for Small-eyed Ray in area 7e, and for some catch to be retained to improve data quality. Catches were previously completely prohibited in this area.

The TAC for Undulate Ray has increased by 24% but is still below ICES advice. Between 2022 and 2023, the catch advice for this species changed from using the precautionary approach to a Maximum Sustainable Yield approach. This caused a significant change in the advice. The catch limits were still set in a precautionary way, with the full extent of the advice not being immediately used to determine the TAC, but rather the TAC was set at a lower level. This trend has continued this year, with an increase that is still below the advice.

Additionally, we welcome the inclusion of a collated prohibited species list in the Written Record.

We await the results of the EU’s internal fisheries negotiation, which is currently ongoing.

Photo Credits:

Banner - Andy Murch

Thornback Ray: Paul Naylor

Undulate Ray: Sheilah Openshaw