NFFO South West Committee Elects New Chairman and Vice Chairman

21st October 2011 in South West

The NFFO South West Committee elected John Butterwith as its new Chairman at its meeting on 19th October, replacing Rob Penfold who stands down after leading the Committee for the last 3 years.

John has been highly active on behalf of the Committee as its Vice Chairman and most recently chaired the South West Fishing Industry MCZ Planning Group which put forward industry positions to the Finding Sanctuary project. He is joined by Steve Parker who was elected as Vice Chairman at the meeting.

John Butterwith said: “These are very challenging times for our industry which is being buffeted on multiple fronts and it is essential that the Committee acts as a mouth piece for the industry in the South West to ensure that our issues and needs are addressed at the top table. The strength of the Committee is its diverse mix of interests covering the multiple fisheries of the South West which means we can speak with gravity and conviction.”

Marine Conservation Zones

The Committee had Natural England in attendance to discuss the status of marine conservation zone planning following the completion of the Finding Sanctuary Project. It was agreed that there was a need to maintain a two-way dialogue with the industry in the lead up to the selection of sites to go to the public consultation expected next summer. The industry needed to have its own dossier backed with as much evidence as possible to ensure that its viewpoints achieved maximum influence. The on-going frustration of working blind with respect to the management measures that would apply in protected areas was strongly impressed.

TACs and Quotas

The Committee looked at the 2012 TACs and Quotas proposals which are being influenced this year by the Commission’s policy to transition fisheries to Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015 and apply automatic cuts to stocks that are considered to be data poor.

John Butterwith said: “It is deeply regretful that the Commission finds the need to propose even more disproportionate and arbitrary cuts to so called data poor stocks when the underlying stocks assessments are showing an improving situation. All this amounts to unnecessary over-kill and is only going to generate more discards and wasted resources, something which the Commission is supposedly seeking to eliminate.”

Domestic Quota Reform

Domestic quota reform and under 10s was discussed in light of Defra’s awaited consultation response.

“There is no getting away from the fact that the tight quota situation makes any reform of domestic quota arrangements difficult and testing but if we are to be able to think creatively and find solutions it is necessary that we as an industry can discuss the possibilities with the information from quota managers on the table to identify what we have to work with. We must also not neglect that the non-sector is as much a part of this process and will need full consideration in moving forward.”

Crab and Lobster

The Committee underpinned its support for the Federation’s Shellfish Committee’s work to progress an effort cap in the crab and lobster fisheries through a combination of measures to suit the varied nature of the fleet.

John Butterwith said: “We will increase the Committee’s meetings to quarterly in order to keep abreast of the fast moving agenda and input the hands on experience at the port level into directing the Committee’s policy work”.