Like many others, we are studying the text of the draft EU/UK withdrawal agreement to understand its implications for the future of the UK fishing industry. Our provisional view is that this is an extremely important first step towards a new future for the UK as an independent coastal state, denied us 40 years ago when the UK signed up to the Common Fisheries Policy. It is, however, only a first step. Further challenges lie ahead in securing the actual access arrangements and quota shares consistent with that new status.
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Defra is consulting on a proposal to require all vessels below 12 metres in length to fit and operate inshore VMS equipment when operating in English waters. This mobile phone based technology will allow regulators to track the location, speed and heading of fishing vessels in near real time. English vessels operating outside English waters would also be required to operate the equipment. Over-12 metre vessels (around 327) are already subject to satellite based monitoring. Around 2751 vessels would be included in the new arrangements. The purchase and installation costs would initially be met through EMFF. Reporting costs and replacement equipment would be purchased and installed at the vessel owners’ expense.
Risk & Policy Analysts (RPA) Ltd have been commissioned by Defra to carry out work on the evaluation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and its implementation in England and the devolved administrations, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
and a discussion of fishing post-Brexit, featured heavily on BBC Farming Today recently.
As the UK leaves the EU and therefore the Common Fisheries Policy, this Bill is an important staging-post on the way to the UK’s new status as an independent coastal state. It will be important to manage our fisheries on a sustainable basis in this new future and this Bill provides the powers to control who fishes in UK waters and also to set safe limits for overall fishing levels. It provides for legal continuity as we transition away from the Common Fisheries Policy but also the means through which we can build a new 'fit-for purpose' UK fisheries policy.
The NFFO and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federations, recently joined forces for a lobby day in Parliament, ahead of key decisions on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and therefore the CFP. The purpose of the event was to underline the importance of the decisions ahead for the fishing industry at national and local levels. A team of 20 port representatives were available to talk to local MP about their specific issues. The meeting was addressed by both Secretary of State, Michael Gove and Fisheries Spokesperson for the Official Opposition, Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth.
A consensus seems to be emerging that bass could be excluded from the landings obligation when it comes fully into force on 1st January. The exclusion of the species hinges on an interpretation of the “catch limits” which currently apply to bass. On the face of it, bass should be included in the landings obligation because a range of catch limits apply to different gears in which bass are caught; and the wording in article 15 of the CFP basic regulation which gives force to the discard ban does indeed refer to “catch limits.”
The recent clashes in the Channel between UK and French fishing vessels over scallop grounds highlight a number of important issues.
Thousands of flags and wheelhouse stickers in fishing ports across the country are delivering the fishing industry’s message to the Government and politicians as the UK/EU withdrawal negotiations edge towards a critical stage. By flying the No Sell-Out flags, thousands of vessels, in dozens of ports around the coast, urge the UK negotiators to stand firm against the EU’s pressure to keep the status quo on access for their fleets and the current unfair quota shares. Cornish fisherman and NFFO Chairman, Andrew Pascoe, in a letter accompanying the flags, spells it out:
A new project is underway to help improve advice on ways to prevent seals from taking fish catches.