Following the NFFO’s meeting with Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, when the absence of an appeals process for bass entitlements was criticised, the MMO has announced a turnaround in the official approach. Letters are being sent out today and the Federation is seeking clarification on how far the new approach goes.
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The UK media reported this week on a leaked document from the EU Parliament, explaining why nothing much will change in European fisheries after the UK leaves the EU.
The NFFO is encouraging fishing vessel owners to make use of the EMFF funds not only to gain early minimum compliance with the upcoming codes but to improve the vessel safety beyond that which is required. Changes in the new codes where EMFF money can assist are vessels under 15m which will require an EPIRB with a built-in GPS receiver. However, if the vessel is less than 10m or operates single handed, owners can instead opt for a PLB with a GPS receiver for each crew member. An open vessel between 7m and 15m, or a decked vessel between 7m and 10m will also now be required to carry a liferaft.
An NFFO delegation met with Fisheries Minister George Eustice, on Thursday 9th February to address the issues raised in our letter of censure, following the handling of the December Council and the issues raised by the new draft concordat between the four fisheries administrations. Our letter reads:
The NFFO has raised the issue of bass with Fisheries Minister George Eustice. At a meeting with the Minister this week, the unnecessary rigidity of the rules for gill netters was highlighted and the consequences – the discarding of valuable bycatch – spelt out.
The Federation has written urgently to Fisheries Minister George Eustice calling for an appeals process for vessels excluded from the bass fishery.
We have been deeply troubled about the way that the fisheries concordat between the four fisheries administrations has evolved since 2012. Despite the significance of the agreement for the many fishing business affected by its provisions, its successive iterations have been developed in secrecy, contravening the normal rules of transparent and open governance. The convoluted language in which the concordat has been deliberately couched, has been defended as creative ambiguity. But on each new version, we have found that, without exception, the concordat has subsequently been interpreted in ways that work to the systematic disadvantage of the UK fishing industry outside the Scotland.
The NFFO’s President, Tony Delahunty, has been appointed to sit on the Board of the Marine Management Organisation.
Through its work with the North Sea Advisory Council, the NFFO has been centrally involved in the preparation of NSAC advice in the lead up to the Commission’s proposal for a multi-annual plan for the demersal fisheries in the North Sea. In particular, we have been supportive of the potential flexibility provided by F ranges in setting TACs that are compatible with both MSY objectives and implementation of the landing obligation.
The beginning of 2017 and the second year of the progressive implementation of the EU landings obligation, seems like a good point to stand back and assess how things are going and what the outlook is for the future. Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, has signalled that it his wish that the UK post-Brexit, should retain “the principle of a discard ban”. This suggests that the UK will remain fully engaged with the EU on implementing the landings obligation, through to 2019, although post-Brexit there may be opportunities for the UK’s specific arrangements to move in a different direction.