Mike Cohen – NFFO Chairman - Personal remarks to the NFFO AGM, held this year in London in Fishmongers Hall
In just a few minutes I cease not only to be the Chairman of the NFFO, but also - for the time being,…
The last couple of weeks have been busy but not untypical for the NFFO.
The fortnight started with a meeting with the head of marine at Natural England at our York offices. This was a productive meeting and demonstrated that the Federation’s work with the MPA Fishing Coalition has been successful in shifting the Government’s statutory conservation advisors away from an aggressive, somewhat fundamentalist approach to establishing marine protected areas, towards one in which talking to stakeholders, like fishermen potentially affected by marine conservation zones, is centre stage.
The middle of that week saw an NFFO delegation meet with DEFRA to work on the implementation of the landings obligation. This too was a very useful meeting as industry representatives from all parts of the coast and all fleet segments contributed to DEFRA’s thinking on the regional discard plans which will have to be ready for the demersal fisheries by June 2015.
At the same time, the Federation attended the Atlantic Crab Resource Users Network (ACRUNET) partners meeting in Lisbon which reviewed progress on the implementation of brown crab industry and supply chain support measures. This included examining latent fleet capacity, quality initiatives, improvements to transport and holding facilities, marketing and promotion.
On Tuesday July 1st the Federation took part in an MMO Stakeholder Focus Group reviewing marine licencing, progress on the Southern Marine plan and the MMO's approach to evidence provision.
This was followed by fishing industry meeting with Defra for site by site examination of fisheries issues associated with potential Tranche 2 MCZ proposals in English waters in the lead up to formal consultation proposed for early 2015.
The following week was dominated by the North West Waters Advisory Council meetings in Edinburgh. The NFFO has played a central role in the regional advisory councils since they were established 10 years ago, and in fact at these Edinburgh meetings chaired two out of the four area group meetings (Celtic Sea and Irish Sea). The issues being worked on are extensive and important: the landings obligation, ICES advice for quotas in 2014; long-term management plans, scallops, seabass, undulate ray and the drift net ban.
Later that week we were examining fisheries data availability for the Eastern Irish Sea offshore wind farms displacement study. Also the MPA Implementation Group met. It is reviewing progress and next steps in the implementation of management measures for European Marine Sites and Tranche 1 MCZs in English waters and procedures for allowing for effective industry engagement on measures.
The NFFO West Coast Committee met in Barrow on Friday of that week. Lobbying against the Commission's drift net ban proposals was prominent among its areas of work, as well as addressing local marine licensing problems and coordinating the use of NFFO Training Trust fund support to the local industry.
An NFFO delegation was fielded for the annual briefing on ICES advice on TACS and quotas for 2015 in London. The NFFO took the lead in questioning the inherent tensions between a fixed timetable to MSY and mixed fisheries and multi species issues.
At the same time the Federation was represented at a meeting of scientists, stakeholders and the European Commission, in Amsterdam, focused on trade-offs between different objectives within the context of mixed fisheries, multi-species interactions and the landings obligation. This work will become important very soon when TACs will be set on a mixed fishery basis. A proposal for a mixed fishery plan for the North Sea will be proposed by the Commission next Spring.
Meantime, the Federation’s Safety and Training officer has been working on certification issues and the safety folder which provided a straightforward guide to undertaking a risk assessment on each
Later in the week the NFFO attended the Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables (FLOWW) meeting, presenting draft guidelines on disruption settlements associated with marine works and loss of fisheries access and application of fisheries community funds. The meeting reviewed the application of safety zones and establishing future work on best practice approaches for achieving cable burial.
The NFFO chairs the Demersal Working Group of the North Sea Advisory Councilwhich met at Schipol Airport. This was an important meeting which made progress on advice on the EU drift net ban, the EU landings obligation, a long term management plan for nephrops, TAcs and quotas for 2015, Seabass and pulse fishing.
Finally, the Federation was involved in a meeting of the International Sustainability Unit at St James Palace to discuss Investment in Sustainable Fisheries
All this gives a flavour of the range and intensity of the Federation’s work, although its focus will change from week to week dependent on what issue is being dealt with and which fleets are affected by current measures. It would not be able to sustain this level of activity without the voluntary, unpaid support of many NFFO members who provide the backbone of the Federation’s representative work.