Disappointment is almost inadequate as a term to describe the news that once again the iconic North Sea cod stock is in trouble. After a decade and a half in which the stock has been slowly but steadily increasing, the biomass is again in steep decline.
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A seminar in Brussels, organised recently by the European Commission, was held to take stock of the EU landing obligation, which came fully into force for demersal species on 1st January 2019. Around 100 participants presented their views on how the landing obligation was being implemented, what problems remained and what lessons were being learned.
A series of meetings between regulators and the fishing industry, to discuss the implementation issues arising from the landing obligation, have now been formalised as the "Landing Obligation Forum." Another name for the forum could be an "in-year implementation/solutions group."
The political profile of the fishing industry stands at its highest point since the Cod Wars in the 1970s. This heightened political and public profile provides an opportunity to put our inshore fisheries on the pathway to a sustainable and profitable future. Too often the issues confronting our inshore fisheries have been mired in disinformation and placed in the “too difficult” box.
The NFFO’s members span all sizes of vessel and so must be scrupulously fair when it comes to the controversial issue of quota distribution, which has been raised as the Fisheries Bill passes through Parliament. This detailed paper argues that despite some flaws, Fixed Quota Allocations have played a central role in putting fishing in the UK on a sustainable basis. It also makes the point that the challenges currently facing the small-scale inshore fleets have little to do with the FQA system itself and cautions against abandoning a tried and tested approach.
An evidence-based approach and good location choice continues to be critical to the success of marine conservation, as the government announces the designation of a further 41 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English waters.
It’s early days for the landing obligation, given the magnitude of the changes involved. Ongoing patience and application will be required to address the many outstanding issues, as the new policy is fully integrated into the fisheries management system. The signs are, however, that the fishing industry is responding to the new incentive; improvements in selectivity and avoidance behaviours are widespread.
We liked this antidote by Sustainable Fisheries UB to George Monbiot’s “wilful ignorance” published recently in the Guardian.
Fisheries Minister, Robert Goodwill, will address the industry at the NFFO’s annual general meeting in May. The event will also provide an opportunity for members to raise issues from the floor.
The NFFO backs the need for improved catch reporting but says the Government’s proposed approach has not been well-though through.