NFFO Exec Strengthens Positions on Year-end Negotiations

3rd December 2008 in Executive

The NFFO Executive Committee met recently in York to strengthen and fine tune the Federation’s positions in relation to the all- important year end negotiations that will determine fishing opportunities for 2009.

In addition to discussing and preparing for the third round of EU Norway negotiations, the Executive Committee also focused on the forthcoming Council of Ministers meeting in December and in particular, those proposed TAC reductions that will serve no purpose other than to increase discards. The Council will be held on 17th and 18th December and several of the Commission’s proposals fall into this category:

  • Skates and Rays
  • Dogfish
  • Porbeagle sharks
  • Stocks like lemon sole and dabs where the TAC proposal for the principle target species is an increase but by-catch species earmarked for a reduction

In almost every case a reduction in TAC or restrictive by-catch provision will have zero conservation impact but will lead to significant increase in discards. There may be some superficial PR advantage for the Commission in trumpeting TAC reductions but fishermen see the effects of such blunt and ultimately pointless approaches in the fish that they are legally obliged to discard throughout the year.

There is no silver bullet to address the conservation status of some of these by-catch species but there is a range of targeted and tailored measures in each case that if adopted would deliver better results than cuts in TACs - without the discards and without the economic losses that the industry can ill-afford.

In the case of “Skates and Rays”, this broad category covers many different individual species of skates and rays, some of which have depleted stock status but also others that are fished sustainably and which support vitally important fisheries. The Executive stressed the need to develop alternatives to the blanket TAC reduction and which recognize the existence of healthy targeted fisheries for skates and rays.

The Executive also:

  • Agreed TAC positions and negotiating priorities for the Irish, Celtic and North Seas, English Channel and West of Scotland
  • Stressed the importance of meeting quickly with Defra officials to discuss the implications of the new effort regime that will apply in 2008 but of which many questions remain unanswered.
  • Agreed to meet at an early date with the Marine Fisheries Agency to discuss the new proposed Marine Management Organisation and to question the circumstances and conditions in which VMS satellite data is released to outside agencies
  • Supported the continuation of NFFO port visits programme
  • Discussed the EC proposals on technical conservation and a revised control regulation
  • Developed NFFO positions on offshore wind-farms and marine conservation zones

The Executive will next meet in early February.

NFFO 3rd December 2008.