Catch Quota Project Q + A

6th April 2010 in North Sea, TACs and Quotas

The NFFO met recently with Defra officials to discuss the details of the DEFRA Catch Quota Project. The Federation requested a Question and Answer sheet to bring clarity to what the project involves.

The suggested questions were provided by the NFFO whilst the questions have been completed by Defra

Industry Q&A on the North Sea catch quota project, with remote electronic monitoring.

1. What is a catch-quota system?

A catch-quota is a quota that accounts for the mortality of all fish caught, rather than just fish landed at port. When transferring from traditional landings quota to a catch-quota, the quota is increased to include the estimated mortality in a fishery (e.g. landings mortality plus estimated discard mortality).

In the upcoming pilot all catches of cod (including under Minimum Landing Size) will be counted against quota and no discarding of cod will be allowed (except those under MLS). Fishermen will get more quota and are expected to maximise the value of their catches by using their professional knowledge and skills. Catches of all other species will operate under traditional landings quotas and discards of these species will be allowed, however, normal fishing legislation applies and vessels will still be subject to the high-grading ban.

2. What is the project for?

The purpose of the project is to assess the ability of a catch-quota system to reduce discards, reduce stock mortality, and see if the system encourages fishermen to fish more selectively. The pilot will also assess the ability of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) technology to verify a catch-quota system and provide improved scientific data. This trial of a fully documented catch-quota system will provide useful evidence on whether the system is a suitable option to pursue for CFP reform in 2012.

3. When does the project begin and end?

Defra and Cefas plan to have the English pilot running from the 1st May 2010. Before May, vessels will need to apply for the scheme (deadline – 12 noon - 12th April 2010), be selected by Cefas (based on scientific selection criteria - see question 5.) and have their vessels fitted with the REM technology. Operation of a catch-quota system and REM data collection will end 31st December 2010. From the 1st of January 2011, participating vessels will no longer have additional catch-quota or additional days at sea and will resume standard fishing practices and rules. Although the trial of a catch quota system with REM ends in December 2010 participating vessels will be held in contract until the 31st March 2011 for administrative and scientific purposes, for example, so that Cefas can remove the REM technology from the vessels.

4. Who is eligible to participate?

In the English scheme only English registered vessels over 10m in overall length and in membership of a PO are eligible to enter. Defra and Cefas encourage a range of vessel sizes to apply and would ideally like to include a variety of vessels and gear types (e.g. TR1, TR2, long-liners, and gillnetters) which target cod or will have a significant bycatch of this species during the trial period.

5. How do I apply?

Cefas have advertised the scheme in the fishing news (26/03/2010). You can access an application form through the news and events page on the Cefas website (see 25th March 2010 - Catch quota pilot project with Remote Electronic Monitoring). Hard copies can be requested from Cefas. Contact details can be found at end of this article.

Vessels will be selected based on the scientific criteria for the project. Fishermen will need to fill out details in the application form, part of which includes a short fishing plan of how they could manage their quota/fishing over the duration of the project, to ensure they do not go over their catch quota limit. This fishing plan will be one of the criteria that vessels will be selected against. If selected, further advice may be given by Cefas on techniques participants could consider as part of developing and sticking to their fishing plan.

6. How much additional cod quota will I get if I am selected to participate in the project?

Vessels participating in the scheme can get up to 30% additional cod quota based on the amount of cod a vessel has landed according to the reference period (2008-2009). The amount receivable will be made available on the official start date of the project.

As part of the application process, applicants have been asked to bid on how much quota they would be willing to receive to participate in the scheme, up to a maximum of 30%. This bidding process means that we don’t exclude those vessels that catch the largest amount of cod. The total quota available cannot exceed the English share of 137 tonnes of the 5% additional quota received from the European Commission for the scheme.

7. What will happen when my cod quota is exhausted?

When a vessel’s cod quota is exhausted the vessel will either have to stop fishing (unless there is no chance of it catching cod, e.g. lobster potting) or buy in additional quota. Fishermen will need to manage their cod catches against the other quotas they fish against, using their professional knowledge and skills.

8. Can I lease cod quota in or out during the year or the project?

Throughout the duration of the trial (May – December 31st 2010), all vessels participating in the scheme will not be able to sell or lease out cod quota to vessels within or outside the catch-quota scheme. However, participating vessels will be allowed to buy-in or lease in cod quota from other vessels. Bought in/leased in cod quota will also be subject to the rules of the catch-quota.

9. How many extra days at sea will I get if I am selected?

Trawlers (TR1 and TR2) will be offered additional days at sea to allow for more flexible fishing operations throughout the year, to encourage cod avoidance behaviour and so avoid unnecessary tie up. Gillnetters and long-liners participating in the trial will not be eligible to receive extra days.

TR1 vessels receiving a 12 month flat rate allocation shall receive around 25 additional days and TR2 vessels shall receive around 34 additional days, however, total days receivable will be no more than 100% of a vessels track record. TR1 and TR2 vessel joining in the course of the year will receive a pro rata allocation in the normal way. Participating vessels shall not be permitted to transfer out days at sea.

10. Will the extra days allocated to participating vessels be at the cost to the rest of the fleet?

The extra days allocated should not be at the cost of the rest of the fleet. The UK plans to redeem the days through a buyback provision for days under the cod recovery plan, as the scheme will decrease overall cod mortality.

11. Will discards of all fish be prohibited during the period of the project?

All catches of cod must be landed if they are above the minimum landing size. Discarding of undersize cod will be allowed once it is counted against quota and discarding of species other than cod is permitted, providing it adheres to the requirements of the high grading ban. Discard estimates for cod, haddock and whiting will also be recorded as part of the scheme.

12. What are the CCTV cameras for?

The purpose of the CCTV element of the remote electronic monitoring (REM) system is to verify catches and discards when operating a catch quota system. The main questions we aim to answer are:

  • Is the REM technology good enough to monitor a catch quota system in a mixed fishery; can cameras allow us to verify catches, discards, or distinguish between different species (cod, haddock, and whiting) and sizes of these fish?
  • Does the REM technology work with different sized vessels and for a range of different gear types (trawlers, gillnetters and long-liners)?

13. What will the film be used for?

The film footage will be analysed by trained Cefas shore based observers to verify if filmed catches and discards equate to logged catches. Cefas will use filmed data to form scientific reports on the project and if the data retrieved is suitable it may be used to inform fisheries data collection that is required of us by the EU (e.g. catch composition or informing stock analysis)

14. What will happen to the film after each trip and after the end of the project?

When the hard drive reaches its capacity it will be exchanged for another hard drive. The film on the hard drive will be analysed for the purposes of project and any data presented in Cefas reports will aggregated and made anonymous. Reports will be submitted to the European Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), so that they can review the project. The film data will then be deleted from the portable hard-drive and returned to a vessel for further data collection. Data may be transferred from hard drives and temporarily retained for up to 6 months after the end of the project to provide a record of the scheme and allow scientific papers to be written.

15. Who will have access to the film and for what purpose? What safeguards will be in place to ensure that the film will not be misused or used for any purpose other than agreed in the terms and conditions of the project?

Cefas and Defra data controllers will have access and ownership of film data and are subject to the laws of data protection. These data controllers will ensure data is not used for purposes other than those specified in the schemes terms and conditions. Information obtained by the REM system and by observers may be released to other bodies if it is necessary for the investigation or prosecution of persons, or for any other purpose required by law.

16. Who will install the camera, who will own them and what will happen to them at the end of the project?

Engineers contracted by Cefas and the systems suppliers (Archipelago Marine Research Ltd) will position and install the remote electronic monitoring systems. Cefas own the camera’s and will retrieve them after data collection ends on 31st December 2010.

17. What will the implications be if I am operating in the Norwegian sector?

All vessels participating in the scheme will abide by standard fishing rules and legislation for the sector they are fishing in. Vessels fishing in the Norwegian sector will be expected to operate within the rules agreed to in the catch quota project contract and also the standard fishing laws expected to be abided by in the Norwegian sector (e.g. Norwegian discard ban).

18. Will my PO be involved?

POs and MMO will be involved and will ensure participating vessels receive their calculated additional quota allocations. Cefas and Defra will inform POs exactly how much extra quota the participating vessel/s has been allocated.