Fishing Quota Allocation: Developing a new approach for allocating additional fishing quota in England
Defra have consulted on how any additional quota, obtained as the UK renegotiates its…
The publication of the Commission’s proposals for TACs and quotas in 2015 opens a period of intense activity for the Federation, which will run right up to the December Council; which this year is held on 15th and 16th December.
This year’s autumn negotiations are especially critical as the main CFP policy drivers – maximum sustainable yield by 2015 (where possible) and automatic precautionary reductions where fisheries are deemed to be “data limited” – have led to proposals for huge quota reductions of between 20% and 60% in 2015. The recent closure of the Bristol Channel fisheries under the cumulative effect of successive quota reductions opens the realistic spectre of similar closures in other fisheries next year. The Federation’s primary role, given that the scientific assessments confirm the generally positive fishing mortality and stock trends in our main fisheries, is to oppose a fundamentalist application of the MSY timetable to TACs for 2015.
The NFFO has already met with Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, to express alarm at the implications of pursuing the MSY timetable and the Federation also played a prominent role in a recent stakeholder meeting with the Minister and devolved administrations in Belfast.
The Federation’s central messages at these meetings have been:
Localised fleet collapses
Processors pushed into liquidation, with loss of processing jobs
Displaced fleets with knock-on effects in other areas/fisheries
Small vessels with limited range forced to tie up with their crews losing all income until the fishery opens again in January
A Rational Approach
A disinterested but informed outsider looking at the process of setting TACs for 2015, might conclude that:
Mixed fishery considerations
Whether the decision will result in a reduction in fishing mortality or just an increase in discards
Socio-economic considerations, not just in relation to this or that single stock, but in relation to the totality of fishing opportunities to a specific fleet
It is undeniable that the environmental lobby is now a significant force at play in all major fishing policy decisions and they tend to be especially vocal around the time when TAC decisions are made. The NGOs certainly were influential in shaping the CFP reform to include a mandatory obligation to base TAC decisions on achieving MSY by 2015. And we can expect their ritual denunciation of ministers who take into account mixed fishery and socio-economic consequences as part of their decisions.
What is less clear is what the NGO’s attitude will be to the unfolding consequences of following their policy, and in particular the forced timetable to MSY. When business casualties are seen, right across the fleet, affecting small artisanal fleets as well as larger vessels, will they still be urging ministers to move further and faster to implement MSY?