E-log problems Raised at North East meeting

6th April 2014 in Domestic Fisheries Policy, North East, North Sea

The latest of several regional and port meetings organised by the MMO and NFFO to address problems with the implementation of electronic log books, has been held recently in York.

The Federation has on several occasions raised the catalogue of e-log problems experienced by the industry and has highlighted flaws in way the e-log policy has been implemented, at national level. However, it was felt that the only way rapid progress could be made would be if the MMO and DEFRA heard directly from the fishermen who are obliged to use the new equipment and who are facing these problems on a daily basis. The regional/port meetings are therefore an attempt to flush out all of the issues and address them, one by one.

"After a period of denial through which the MMO and DEFRA refused to accept that there was anything wrong, beyond teething troubles, there is now an acceptance that there are a range of fundamental problems with the system; these potentially expose fishermen to prosecution for non-compliance", said Ned Clark, Chairman of the NFFO's North East Committee. "Thankfully, there is now recognition that there are indeed serious problems and these meetings around the coast are an important step forward in resolving them", he added.

The problems fall into a number of categories:
  • Technical
  • Safety
  • Lack of adequate guidance
  • Lack of advisory support
  • High costs
"We appreciate the constructive and pragmatic approach now being applied by the MMO to get the system up and running in an acceptable way. When the new reporting technologies are used for vessel and catch monitoring and control and it is a legal obligation with serious consequences for non-compliance, it is essential that the system works. So far it hasn't." "An important step forward was having one of the main suppliers in the room to hear the issues first hand." Some of the problems with the e-log/VMS system have been caused by the way the policy has been implemented in the UK but others - especially the safety issues - have been caused by the way that the EU Control Regulation has been drafted. "This is what happens when policy is made remote from the fisheries on the ground" said Ned Clark. "It's been a mess but this type of meeting is vital in getting us to a system that is easy to use, delivers what is necessary, is low cost and doesn't hamper fishermen's work, or compromise their safety."