Following a meeting between Dutch pulse fishermen and English inshore fishermen, just before Christmas, a voluntary agreement has been reached through which the Dutch pulse vessels will refrain from operating in some of the most sensitive areas off the English coast.
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We are very sad to hear the news that former NFFO Chairman and President, David Scott, has died.
NFFO President, Tony Delahunty, has been honoured in the Queen’s New Year List for his services to the fishing industry. A working fishermen in an under-10 metre vessel until this November, Tony has been awarded the OBE in recognition of his huge contribution over many years.
Over the next ten months, the shape of the UK’s future outside the EU should become clearer. In order to fit with the parliamentary ratification processes in both the UK and EU, exit negotiations must be concluded by October 2018, if the Government’s timetable for departure in March 2019 is to be met.
This was a different kind of December Council in a number of important ways. Many delegations were delayed by weather; UK fisheries Minister George Eustice returned early to London to participate in a crucial parliamentary vote; and we felt the sharp end of the EU’s inflexible approach to maximum sustainable yield. The Commission was in fact particularly intransigent throughout the negotiations. It also seemed to forget that the centrepiece of its policies is the landing obligation that fully comes into force on 1st January 2019 and that all TAC decisions ought to support, rather than undermine, that particular policy - which is going to be difficult enough to implement as it is.
A strong NFFO team is present in Brussels for the December Council, which begins today in Brussels. The Commission has made seabass a central issue for the Council, by proposing an even blunter approach than currently exists, with the prospect of even larger levels of discards of bass caught as unavoidable bycatch in the mixed fisheries.
During the annual EU/Norway negotiations, this year in Bergen, the Norwegian delegation gave a presentation of its preliminary views on the type of joint management arrangements for the North Sea that it thinks will be necessary to accommodate the UK as an independent coastal state after March 2019.
The EU and Norway delegations paused in their negotiations in Bergen for an annual reciprocal fisheries agreement, to mark the 40 year anniversary of the talks.
There are deep concerns within the fishing industry that an impasse between the European member states and EU Parliament over technical conservation rules, will leave fishermen in the wheelhouse, or on the deck, in an impossible position of having to obey two conflicting rules. This is potentially important for our fleets in the UK, because constraints on Parliamentary time in Westminster could mean that EU technical conservation rules retained from the CFP could be with us for some time after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
Whilst the Exit talks in Brussels judder forward, on both sides there is a great deal of activity taking place just below the surface. As might be expected, the NFFO is fully engaged in building the conditions for a positive outcome for the UK fishing industry. Our activities were reported to our AGM, on 11th October, where the UK Fisheries Minister also confirmed Defra’s commitment to a clear but smooth departure from the EU and therefore, legally and logically, the Common Fisheries Policy.