NFFO Releases ‘Fishing Fact, Fishing Fiction’

15th March 2013 in Media, Sustainability / Environment

The National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO), the body representing fishermen’s groups, individual fishermen and producer organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has identified a plethora of ‘flawed research’ and ‘blatant distortions of the truth’ in a report by Greenpeace, which risks dividing and damaging the very livelihoods, industry and food supply the environmental group purports to support.


According to the NFFO, Greenpeace’s ‘Wolf in Shrimp’s Clothing’ report contains claims which misrepresent and discredit the many independent, inshore fishermen lobbying for better livelihoods as part of the NFFO. It says the report draws inaccurate conclusions by either misunderstanding or choosing to ignore critical information on how the industry and its small boat fishermen are working together to achieve a sustainable future and food source.

Ned Clark, inshore fisherman and Chair of the North East Committee of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said: “Whilst Greenpeace and the NFFO share a common goal in working towards a more successful, sustainable fishing industry, this report is desperate in its efforts to create and exploit divisions in our sector. Fortunately there seem to be few fishermen who buy into what is propaganda, flawed research and blatant distortions of the truth.

“The vast majority of our members are home fishermen and the vast majority own smaller vessels. This simple fact ensures we have the interests of the home fisherman at the heart of everything we do.

“The NFFO has led the way in establishing fisheries science partnerships, initiated discard reduction initiatives, and worked with scientists and NGOs on the development of sustainable fishing plans for the North Sea, Celtic Sea, Irish Sea and West of Scotland.

“Greenpeace on the other hand has limited its contribution to spreading intentionally divisive disinformation and has been invisible in any of the multiple conservation initiatives which have succeeded in turning stock trends around over the last 10 years.”

As a result of the claims, the NFFO has compiled ‘Fishing Fact, Fishing Fiction’ – the top ten most inaccurate and sensationalist claims within the Greenpeace report, alongside the true facts.

The NFFO: Fishing Fact, Fishing Fiction

  1. The NFFO is dominated by foreign interests: Only 8% of the vessels in NFFO membership are owned outside the UK – it’s true these vessels tend to be at the larger end of the scale but many fish in external waters - Norway and Greenland for example – inaccesible to smaller boats.
  2. Big Boat Dominated: “It is unlikely that there will be many independent vessels in the NFFO”: 60 per cent of the NFFO’s member vessels are below 15 meters in length and almost all of those are small, family-owned businesses.
  3. The NFFO re presents less than 9% of under 10m fleet: Only a third of the 2,951 under 10m vessels registered in the UK fish for quota regulated species. Around 30 per cent of these are NFFO members but many of our members also fish for non quota species such as Bass and shellfish.
  4. The NFFO is trying to sideline the smaller fisherman and shut them out: Why would it when 60 per cent of member vessels are below 15 metres and 40% are under-10 metres? What the NFFO is against is a separate advisory council for small scale fleets, as it would lead to rapid ghettoisation. Our ‘leaked’ letter to the Commission, available to download on put forward a number of positive suggestions on strengthening the voice of the small scale fleet.
  5. The NFFO is trying to deny the small scale fisherman more quota: The NFFO has made real advances in strengthening the position of the under-10m fleet, including making professional quota management accessible to the under-10s, giving them the opportunity to maximise quotas levels with the over-10’s through swaps and transfers.
  6. Quota Grab by Quota Barons is the Root of the Problem: This is not the case - under-10 ‘Rule Beater’ vessels currently catch 70% of the under-10m quota allocations, despite comprising only 14% of the fleet, and the NFFO is actively lobbying Government to address this.
  7. The NFFO is blocking new fisheries policy that would reward those that fish sustainably: The NFFO has led the way in establishing fisheries science partnerships, initiated discard reduction initiatives, and worked with scientists and NGOs on the development of sustainable fishing plans.
  8. The NFFOs main aim is to serve Producer Organisations (POs) which represent larger vessels - the NFFO does work closely with POs but most comprise of varying fleets and interests – for example half the members of the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation, the largest in the Federation – are under 10m fleet, with many small, family owned businesses.
  9. Our website lists member associations that are defunct: True. We are guilty of not updating our website and the incorrect information has now been removed.
  10. The NFFO is not what it seems: NFFO has earned respect over many years by championing advancing credible policy positions, backed by evidence, working with independent fisheries scientists and fisheries managers, and of being inclusive and open. Practically everything we do or say appears on our website; our accounts are publicly available.