This was a different kind of December Council in a number of important ways. Many delegations…
Urgent Bass Talks
The NFFO has raised the issue of bass with Fisheries Minister George Eustice. At a meeting with the Minister this week, the unnecessary rigidity of the rules for gill netters was highlighted and the consequences – the discarding of valuable bycatch – spelt out.
The issues raised were the absence of an appeals process from vessels unfairly excluded from the fishery and the inability to transfer eligibility when a vessel changes hands.
It was stressed that some flexibility in the MMO guidance could reduce the difficulties faced by many inshore vessels and would be still be consistent with the European legislation and further more would not add a single bass being killed.
The Minister and DEFRA officials agreed to look at the request as a matter of urgency and talks between DEFRA and the MMO have already begun.
The case was also made for deeper thinking about the measures that have been brought in over that last two years, many of which bear the hallmarks of rushed, poorly through through, sticking plasters. Finding ways to reduce fishing mortality on bass without generating discards is going to become an ever more crucial issue as the full implementation of the discard ban in 2019. The Minister and officials agreed to begin a strand of work in preparation for the next December, and in the slightly longer term, the landings obligation.
The Minister remarked that dealing with issues such as these should become easier once the UK leaves the EU and the CFP. In the meantime it was agreed to look into the issues raised by the Federation as a matter of urgency.