NFFO Scaremongering? This is what STECF has to say about choke species under the discard ban

21st February 2014 in Discards

Analysis of potential chokes issues The available studies of the potential impacts of choke species suggest that there is a risk of choke species having a large negative effect on fishing if access to quota issues cannot be resolved.

In many cases there may be businesses unable to continue trading and large quantities of quota uncaught if choke species take the effect highlighted in these reports. In some cases, substantial changes in practice will be required in order for businesses to remain profitable while observing the landings obligations. All methods used in the analyses considered relied on very important assumptions which may not represent the reality, and, depending on the assumptions used, may lead to very different conclusions. However, without a large margin of flexibility there could possibly be a substantial and unsustainable loss in profitability for vessel businesses. The interpretation of the regulation, particularly the application of de minimis allocations, may have substantial effects on businesses as a consequence, the prospect of going out of business would clearly generate a substantial incentive for individual business operators not to comply with the landings obligation and compliance issues should be considered in light of identified expected choke species.

Objective 1 of the CFP requires that fishing should deliver economic and social benefits and be done in such a way as to be environmentally sustainable. Article 15 of CFP reform might prove inconsistent with this objective if many vessel businesses cannot continue to trade and much of the agreed quota remains uncaught due to the effects of choke species. Quota swaps between MS might become more difficult to achieve because MS that previously were willing to swap away quota, may now need that quota to prevent the species from becoming a choke species. The problem and solutions vary by MS according to how they variously manage their allocation of quotas to vessels / businesses. MS and Producer Organisations that operate tradable quota units will have different solutions than those that have equal monthly catch allocations per vessel, non-tradable and not time flexible. Different species may choke different individual vessels and / or groups of vessels operating in the same sea areas, depending on how access to quota is allocated.