Meeting With the Marine Management Organisation

13th August 2012 in Domestic Fisheries Policy

The frustrations of dealing with two management bodies was a recurrent theme at the most recent NFFO/MMO meeting, held in the Federation’s offices, in York.

The separation between policy (Defra) and delivery (MMO and IFCAS), may make sense in some areas of government but in fisheries it is the source of much confusion, especially when then overlaid by devolved government and when so many of the rules are derived from Brussels.

During the meeting this was especially apparent in the items on the implementation on EU requirements for vessels between 12m and 15m to fit VMS satellite monitoring equipment, and the reasons why the UK had failed to take advantage of the exemption that is available for vessels that only do day trips or fish exclusively within territorial limits. However, quota management rules, the notification of licence variations, implementation of the concordat between the different fisheries administrations, and management measures for marine protected areas, all gave rise to similar questions about who is responsible for what. It is sometimes difficult to get a real handle on issues when responsibility seems to bounce around like a tennis ball.

Doubtless, in time, someone in the Cabinet office will decide that what is required is more integrated government (joined up government, to coin a phrase) but until then it is important to reduce the scope for confusion. It was agreed, in the meantime, that the appropriate officials from Defra policy would be invited to attend the regular NFFO/MMO meetings, hopefully increasing clarity and the usefulness of the meetings.

Issues Discussed

Apart from the vexed issue of VMS and e-logbooks, the meeting covered

  • Quota Management and delays in administering international swaps
  • Net tagging: A policy document explaining how a voluntary net tagging scheme could work to reduce the time taken in at- sea inspections, will be circulated shortly
  • The implications of the Commission’s non-paper suggesting a TAC for Seabass
  • How the MMO could strengthen communication with the industry: (The NFFO will nominate a number of respected individuals who will act as sounding boards on industry views on the MMO)
  • An update on MMO’s work on managing European and domestic marine protected areas
  • The failure to offer parity to over-10m non-sector vessels in leasing quota
  • The division of quota between the devolved administrations, following the signing of the fisheries concordat between FAs
  • The likelihood the Royal Navy will continue to hold the contract to enforce fisheries legislation at sea and the importance of quality assurance arrangements given the high turnover of personnel performing this role
  • Licence Variations: confusion on whether paper variations must be carried following the advent of an electronic system: (MMO agreed to clarify the issue)

These regular meetings serve an important purpose in bringing the industry’s main issues of concern to the surface and allowing the MMO to update the industry on its own initiatives.