Fishing Quota Allocation: Developing a new approach for allocating additional fishing quota in England
Defra have consulted on how any additional quota, obtained as the UK renegotiates its…
During a brief lull in the gales battering Cornwall last week, an important meeting was organised by the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation to address the severe problems facing the demersal fisheries in the Celtic Sea. The meeting was attended by CEFAS scientists, DEFRA and MMO officials, along with the CFPO, NFFO and a strong attendance of affected skippers from vessels of all sizes and methods.
A proposal to cut the haddock quota by 75% was mitigated in December to a reduction of 33% for 2014. But proposals for a further big cut could be in the pipeline for 2015.
Although the broad trends in the Celtic Sea are positive and consistent with those for the whole NE Atlantic (fishing mortality has fallen dramatically since 2000 and the number of stocks reaching MSY is increasing steadily every year), the appearance of huge populations of haddock on the South West grounds, where they had not been prevalent in recent years presents a major management problem.
Haddock, as a species, is renowned for "random and sporadic recruitment spikes", the reasons for which are probably environmental and are imperfectly understood. Welcome though the availability of this resource undoubtedly is, it presents a nightmare to manage in the context of the ultra-mixed fisheries in the Celtic Sea. Setting a quota in multi-species, multi-gear and multi-jurisdiction fisheries is always a challenge but the mix of factors in the Celtic Sea makes management uniquely tricky. The impending discard ban adds an extra layer of urgency.
The mitigated reduction in Total Allowable Catch for 2014 came with a commitment to develop new technical measures to reduce quota-driven discards - and this was the core subject of this very well attended meeting.
Predicting the size of incoming recruitment is one of the more challenging aspects of stock assessments but the meeting recognised that a proactive approach is needed if widespread discarding and more brutal measures are to be avoided.
The meeting therefore agreed to:
There is no disguising the difficulties in managing this issue but the Newlyn meeting demonstrated perfectly what can be achieved when fishermen, scientists and managers sit down and work together. The hope is that this way of dealing with undoubtedly difficult issues will now replace the top-down dictat from Brussels, which in the past has almost invariably led to blunt and inappropriate measures.
This meeting, so early in 2014, sets the scene for the implementation of discard reduction measures during the year, a more constructive approach for 2015 and preparation for the landings obligation in 2016.