NFFO East Anglia Committee Elects Chairman

16th November 2015 in East Anglia

The recently formed NFFO East Anglia Committee elected Steve Wightman, Lowestoft long-lining skipper, as its Chairman at its latest meeting in Norwich on 12th November. Steve is supported by three Vice Chairman covering the coast, including Dave Chambers, Neil Lake and Billy Gaff, with the intention of rotating the Chairmanship on an annual basis.

NFFO East Anglia Committee Elects Chairman
East Anglia Committee Chairman, Steve Wightman, & his <10m vessel, Georgie Girl

Steve said: “I am pleased to be joined by prominent industry representatives from around the coast. We have a diversity of shellfish and finfish fisheries in the region and it is important that all are represented when undertaking our work and forming policy positions”.

“There is a lot of work to do. The region has one of the greatest concentrations of designated and proposed MPAs in the country, as well as offshore wind farms, and it is essential that we defend our fishing grounds by having a collective voice making our case with reasoned argument.”

“The job is no less demanding to protect fisheries themselves. New proposals from the Commission on bass for 2016 that include a 6 month prohibition have come as a big shock. Although there is a need to return the fishery to long term sustainability, it has to be done in a way that does not sacrifice the very existence of the industry that is highly dependent upon it”, he said.

Back in the spring, when the Committee was formed, it was quick out of the starting blocks to respond to the emergency whelk byelaw introduced by the Eastern IFCA and in formulating a long-term proposal for the management of the fisheries. Steve said: “this is the first test to see the region’s industry as a whole come together to put forward its own well thought out policy proposals that keeps the active fleet viable, whilst maintaining the productivity of the stocks. This will be an important litmus test to see how the Eastern IFCA reacts to our suggestions. We are keen to build up a productive working relationship with the IFCA and I think it is in all of our interests to see that happen.”

At its meeting on Thursday, the Committee moved on from the whelk fishery to start to examine brown crab management with view to developing its policy position further at future meetings of the Committee. In addition, the Committee:

  • reviewed emerging MPA proposals and management measures, as well as recent marine renewables licence applications and fisheries liaison practices.
  • assessed the progress of measures to introduce the demersal landing obligation and potential difficulties for the local fisheries, including managing brown shrimp by-catch, and zero TAC stocks such as spurdog as the landing obligation is progressively introduced.
  • discussed proposals for the under 15m safety code of practice regulations and the provision of safety equipment and training support to members.

The next meeting of the Committee is tabled for 4th February.