The Federation has a duty to its members and to wider society to promote sustainable fishing practices. Ensuring future food security, and as an industry minimising our ecological footprint, whilst maintaining the economic viability of the fleets, is all part and parcel of what guides our daily work.
As an industry we have some advantages:
- Fish is a natural and healthy renewable resource and there is growing demand for our product
- In comparative terms, fishing has a much lower environmental impact than most other forms of food production
- Since 2000, the overall level of fishing mortality across all of the main species groups right across the North East Atlantic, has shown a dramatic reduction. With the exception of a few outliers, fish populations are responding positively - and some spectacularly - to this lower level of fishing pressure
- There is now a high degree of cooperation and mutual respect between fishermen and fisheries scientists both of whom have much to contribute to the knowledge needed to manage fisheries effectively
- Management of fisheries in the EU is slowly moving from cumbersome, top-down, micro-management, blanket measures to a more responsive and tailored bottom-up approach. At the same time, short term crisis management is being gradually replaced by long-term management plans developed with industry involvement. There is still a considerable way to go to optimum management structures within the CFP but progress has been made and looks set to continue
- We agree that marine protected areas, carefully selected and managed can play an important part in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Equally, closed areas of various kinds can play a role in managing commercial fish stocks. The problem with the current debate is that it has been clouded by dogma and the naive belief that MPAs will do good, more or less wherever they are sites and for whatever purpose. The Federation has therefore spearheaded opposition to a rushed and evidence-free approach to a network of marine protected areas, which is simply not rational, and promoted a more systematic and evidence based approach. In the long run we believe that this more measured approach will deliver both environmental protection and mitigate undesirable side effects such as the displacement of fishing vessels from their customary grounds.
Fishing has been the subject of great public scrutiny and interest in recent years and has had to respond to rapidly changing public expectations about how fish is caught. Meeting this challenge is one of the foremost priorities for the NFFO.