In a letter received before the announcement of the General Election, Fisheries Minister,…
Bass Appeals Process
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.
Apart from the disruptive impact on fishing businesses, the NFFO is concerned that the effect of this regulation will impact the efforts of the industry to improve safety. Commercial fishing for bass in the gill net fishery will be limited to bycatch only but there is a danger that fear of losing the entitlement to catch bass in the future will stop vessel owners from investing in new boats. Attaching the entitlement to land bass to the track of the vessel itself, rather than as is more usual the, licence, represents a serious problem, especially in the inshore sector.
Only the MMO know just how many vessels will be affected but it is clear that this regulation will seriously harm the under 10 fleet who typically depend on seasonal fisheries, and cannot avoid bass as a bycatch.
Robert Greenwood, Safety and Training officer at the NFFO said.
“Whilst we are heartened by the MMO allowing representations to be made on limited grounds we are still concerned that safety will be affected if owners cannot invest in better or new vessels for fear of losing their bass track record.”
“Inshore multi species vessels will be unable to improve their vessels because of fear of losing a track record for a bycatch allowance. This obviously represent an increased risk to vessel safety.”
“Putting obstacles in the way of building of new vessels and renewing the fleet it not only reduces the safety of the boats but also undermines the necessary trades supported by the fishing industry, such as boat builders and equipment suppliers.”
The significant level of discards that the new regulation will generate in mixed fisheries is an important reason that the NFFO has called for a fundamental review of the measures introduced over the last two years. We are calling for talks on alternatives to begin as a matter of urgency.