We are very sad to hear the news that former NFFO Chairman and President, David Scott, has died.
In the 1990s, David helped to build up the NFFO South East Committee into a highly active and influential group, with a core group of fishermen’s associations from Folkstone to Selsey. He then shifted to the national stage, whilst continuing to make sure that the inshore fleets in the South East and South Coast retained a strong voice and champion. David was Chairman of the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee for many years and fought vigorously to ensure that the fishermen’s view was taken into account when new byelaws for the inshore fisheries were proposed.
Elected NFFO Chairman in 1991, David played a central role in the turbulent years through the 1990s, when misconceived fisheries policies at both EU and national levels led to a stocks crisis, followed by equally misconceived remedial measures.
The NFFO, with David Scott as Chairman and Charlie Dawson as President, coordinated fleet blockades by local boats of Teesport, Plymouth, Milford Haven and Liverpool, which resulted in saturation media coverage and a great deal of public sympathy. A mass rally of 3000 fishermen in Westminster followed, along with a flotilla of fishing vessels up the Thames to Parliament and later that year, a fleet demonstration at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton. The issue was opposition to the Government’s plans to meet EU fleet reduction targets on the cheap by applying days-at-sea restrictions. A train chartered to take fishermen to the London rally from Cornwall alone contained 700 fishermen. It took a referral to the European Court and a change of ministers to put the government’s home grown days-at-sea scheme back on the shelf.
During these turbulent times, David was a central figure, remarkable for his patience during long meetings, working to build a consensus that every part of the coast could support.
During this period, the NFFO produced a document Conservation: an alternative approach, that made recommendations for more selective fishing that in some respects haven’t been surpassed even today. What was remarkable about this process was that every different group of fishermen in the NFFO’s membership was asked to come up with relevant, workable proposals - and every group did. David, by this time, NFFO President, played a pivotal role in forging this new approach.
In addition to his national and regional roles in the fishing politics of the time, David ran the cooperative, the Newhaven Fishermen’s (Sussex) Fish and Flake Ice Society and the day-to-day running of the family boat, which successfully made the transition away from targeting traditional quota species to fishing for non-quota species, which were under less pressure. In this and many other things, David was an innovator.
He will be sadly missed by all his many friends and colleagues. Our condolences go to his family.