Under the Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations 2023, UK-registered fishing vessels will be allowed to target picked / spiny dogfish (spurdog) as of 01 April 2023 in both UK and EU waters.

Following ICES advice that the Northeast Atlantic spurdog stock is recovering and can support a significant level of landings for 2023 and 2024. Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), a spurdog fishery is permitted to commence in UK and EU waters, Fishing Daily reported.



Defra announced that UK fishermen were once more able to fish Northeast Atlantic spurdog in UK waters as the latest scientific evidence revealed the stock is recovering and can support landings in 2023 and 2024.

Spurdog (Squalus acanthias), also known as picked or spiny dogfish, are a type of shark species that inhabit UK waters. They have been managed as a prohibited species in UK and EU waters for around five years to facilitate stock recovery. But now, following a recently updated scientific assessment, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has advised the stock is recovering and landings of spurdog can be supported again.

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:

Through the management of spurdog as a prohibited species, we have enabled stocks to recover to the point where our fishing industry can once again fish this species commercially on a sustainable basis.”

North Sea spurdog quota will be shared between the UK Fisheries Administrations in England, Scotland, Wales and NI using existing fixed quota allocation units for allocation to industry groups. Western spurdog quota will be kept unallocated and managed by monthly tonnage limits in UK vessel licences, with limits being closely monitored and adjusted as necessary once more data is gathered on the fishery.

As part of the UK’s precautionary approach to reopening the fishery, a reserve of 25% of the North Sea quota will be held by the UK government, with a decision on allocating this reserve to be made later this year. The UK and EU will also prohibit landings of spurdog over 100cm in length to discourage the targeting of larger females and provide protection for the breeding stock.

Further information can be read in Fishing Daily and on the Defra website. The MMO guidance on the spurdog fishery can be read here.

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