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To: Bertie Archer – DEFRA

Via e mail

Date: 28th July 2014

Reference: FQA proposals for Under Tens

Dear Bertie,
Many thanks for your e mail of the 23rd July regarding proposals for under ten FQA’s.

I would stress on a positive note that we are in advanced discussions with some of your colleagues regarding what is in our view the most sensible option to deal with the many and serious aspects of quota and under tens for the future, the creation of a dedicated inshore producer organisation type body.

In response to your specific questions posed via e mail:
- Do you think this proposal will be attractive? No
- Will this proposal solve, or cause, any problems for you/your organisation/your members? It will cause significant problems for a great many under tens, as well as severe financial difficulties.
- Do you think the principles are sound and reasonable? No
- What other considerations/factors should be reflected in the methodology? A review of the outcome of previous consultations especially that of 2011 conducted jointly by NUTFA / DEFRA on this subject [and described by one senior DEFRA officer as ‘the most effective consultation we’ve ever undertaken’.]

General Comments;
It is evident that you have circulated your thinking widely as I have had a number of calls from concerned individuals on this subject.
Many of them commented that the issue of allocating FQA’s based on an individual track record had been extensively discussed during the aforementioned 2011 consultation on Domestic Reform and had been almost universally rejected for a range of reasons that should not require repeating.[this is very much the polite version of many comments received that were significantly more blunt].

We are particularly concerned that you refer to the outcome of the DEFRA Community Quota Group project as illustrating a range of benefits for licence holders moving out of the U10m fleet pool. We would be interested to know how you have arrived at this view in light of the fact that history and experience suggests otherwise.

In brief, said history was that the MMO advertised the possibility for under tens to join together in community quota groups and invited fishermen to apply. Despite serious reservations, NUTFA recommended that groups of under tens should in fact apply, if only to gain a better understanding of what was on offer.

Out of the numerous groups that registered an initial interest, the MMO, by their own admission, chose only the 6 groups who held what they considered to be potentially viable amounts of quota, based on MMO figures and the individual track records of group members.

When the groups were provided with what that amount of quota amounted to for each group, the offer was rejected by all but one set of fishers, the Ramsgate group. The remaining groups considered that what was on offer, based on individual track records, was less than was available within the Pool and certainly insufficient to maintain a living without having to resort to leasing or going broke.

So despite spending something over £200,000 on the initiative, including employing two Community Group managers that didn’t actually have a quota group to manage, the project ended up with about 14 fishermen in the Ramsgate area making up one group at the outset.

Since the inception of this one and only group, numbers have dwindled to only three fishers at present.

It is widely recognised that the benefit of fishing from Ramsgate is that one operates on the border between areas IVc and VIId, effectively giving those fishers two bites at the quota cherry and consequently twice as much monthly quota, and therefore track record as most other fishermen in the under ten sector.

So even with this undoubted benefit, the ostensibly successful Ramsgate pilot has in fact not provided the long term benefits originally supposed.

This outcome does underline most clearly the fact that it is entirely iniquitous and unfair to attempt to impose an allocation of quota based on individual track records when those track records have been based on a false premise, that the other sector of the fleet has had a vast amount of funding to reduce capacity [that has in fact had dire and hopefully unintended consequences for the way that quota “ownership” is considered – that resulted in DEFRA ending up in the High Court facing a Judicial Review] and that we are now expected to accept widespread bankruptcy for under tens on the basis that DEFRA keep trying to persuade the world that the community quota group debacle was somehow a success that should therefore lead to the provision of individual FQA’s to the entire under ten metre fleet..

Just one of the many aspects that came from the previous consultation was the fact that officials clearly didn’t recognise or understand that until the suggestion of an under ten track record was raised, operators had never paid any attention to the notion of a personal track record as we worked from a national collective Pool. At the same time, DEFRA had also underestimated the movement of boats in our sector. Unlike large vessels that tend to stay in the same ownership for long periods, our sector fishermen tend to upgrade and downgrade their boats more often. This led to many fishermen inadvertently and unknowingly selling of both their boat and importantly their track record.

In the event that the proposals for individual track records had gone ahead at that time, it would have resulted in any number of long term and bona fide fishermen being unable to continue to fish in the same pattern as they had done for many years and with no ability to consider alternatives. During the consultation, where we visited a large number of English ports and were accompanied by your colleagues, there was considerable and understandable fear created by the proposals in this regard. As just one example, a fisherman in North Shields explained that he had been fishing since leaving school, had built up a reasonable business but due to getting older had decided the previous year to move to a smaller vessel. He had sold his boat in good faith, not realising, and why should he have, that he had also sold away his track record. In the event that individual allocations had been forthcoming, he would have had no track record, a worthless boat and a shed full of gear that he couldn’t use and with no ability to change methods or area.

Your colleagues did their best to suggest that there would be an effective appeals procedure but no one was convinced in that respect.
I will not labour this and the many other points of concern that came out of the consultation, you can of course read them for yourself.

I would however note the issues of the forthcoming landings obligation and the implications of that for the under ten metre fleet and equally importantly, the requirement on Government with respect to Article 17 of the reformed CFP. These are certainly subjects for face to face discussions and entirely relevant to this subject.

Underlying all this is the unequivocal fact that the initial allocation of quota to the under ten fleet was and remains hopelessly flawed and whilst we understand the predicament that this now puts DEFRA in, it is no reason to maintain the inequity.

Article 17 provides the ideal and legally required opportunity for a review of the situation.
At the same time and as mentioned at the outset, NUTFA’s proposals for an English Under Ten PO are well advanced. We have a meeting scheduled with some of your colleagues early in September and on that basis, it may be advantageous to all of us to meet before that date to discuss the implications of your proposals.

Very much in brief, some other aspects of the proposals in need of consideration and discussion are, in no particular order:
• The falsity of attempting to equate ‘ownership’ with compliance. There is precious little evidence in support of this presumption and ample evidence against it.
• The currently rapid backing away in many parts of the USA and Canada amongst other places from the catch shares scenario. Originally touted as the way forward, now recognised as undermining fishing communities and consolidating quota into few and powerful hands at the expense of local fishers
• The potential loss of vital flexibility in terms of access to the resource for smaller scale fishers unable to simply steam away to pastures new
• The fact that many under ten operators have been forced out of quota species fishing due to massive reductions in both stocks and subsequently quotas, neither of which were their fault yet they continue to suffer the consequences
• The example of the use of cheaper foreign crews on larger vessels as a direct result of the increase in the coast of leasing or purchase of FQA’s
• Compensation issues around the forced reduction in the value of fishing licences [deemed under extensive Case Law to be possessions]
• DEFRA’s consideration of the content and aspirations within the current Scottish Government consultation on the future of quota access
• And last but not least, the potential impact on new entrants to the industry.

We look forward to receiving suggested dates to meet with you in this regard and hope that the information above will assist you in more clearly understanding our concerns on behalf of the under ten metre fleet with regard to the proposals.

If you require any further clarification or information in advance of a meeting then please feel free to get in touch,
With best regards,

Via e mail
Date: 18.5.14

For the attention of Ms Maria Damanaki
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
European Commission
B - 1049 Brussels

Reference: Proposal for a Blanket Ban on Drift Nets in EU Waters

Dear Ms Damanaki,
Many have recognised that one of the numerous disasters in European fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy in the past has been the broad brush, one size fits all approach that fundamentally failed to distinguish between the activities and impacts of the huge range of fishing gears and methods in use across the Union.
We had hoped that the latest CFP Reform would have addressed this issue head on but your recent statement with regard to the imposition of a blanket ban on the use of drift nets in EU waters clearly illustrates that this is not the case.
Whilst all concerned recognise and revile the use of driftnets in the well-publicised Mediterranean fisheries where extensive lengths of deep nets take an apparently massive by catch of cetaceans, turtles and other non-target species, this form of drift netting is distant, both geographically and metaphorically from the far smaller scale and environmentally acceptable use of drift nets in UK and adjacent waters.
As an inshore fisherman, I, along with thousands of others have used drift nets for many years in pursuit of a range of species and can honestly say that I have had an almost zero mortality rate for anything other than the target species, usually Herring, Mackerel, Salmon or Sprat.
The key elements of this lack of impact have been the relatively short lengths of net involved and the fact that they are almost exclusively accompanied at all times. So even in the event that a non-target species did come into contact with the nets, it was almost always possible to remove it without damage or mortality.
This form of activity has been a widespread and traditional part of coastal fishing for hundreds of years and has not had, almost without exception, any appreciable environmental impact at all.
I am therefore concerned to read your recent comments such as “drift net fishing with vertical nets is an irresponsible practice” – this is certainly not the case in our waters and I have watched fishermen take significant care and dare I say gentleness in carefully removing any unintended catch from the nets to ensure no harm came to it, or;
“It is a non-selective fishery which leads to non-targeted catches. It threatens marine wildlife and species which are protected under EU legislation.” To the contrary, responsibly fished drift nets are entirely selective, not just in terms of species but also the size of the individual fish. Like passive netting generally, by setting the mesh size, one can ensure that juveniles are neither caught nor harmed in the fishing operation. At the same time and for the reasons provided above, the methods used traditionally in the UK and other adjacent countries pose no threat to ‘marine wildlife and species which are protected under EU legislation’. Like many pelagic fisheries, drift netting is a clean fishery, with only the target species being taken.
So we would ask that you urgently review your aspirations with regard to the introduction of any unnecessary and damaging blanket ban to drift netting in general. This method has been and continues to be a vital part of the seasonal fishing activities for a large number of coastal fishers and one that has been carried out for centuries without any significant adverse impact on non- target species.
Whilst no one would pretend that human activities generally do not have some form of often negative impact on the environment, we are after all busily messing up the planet on a collective basis, fishing particularly does appear to be an easy target for the naysayers.
Although we were not aware of the previous consultation on drift netting, (and I note no responses from any other UK based organisations so perhaps the way that these are publicised should be reviewed?) not least as like so many other organisations, we suffer from ‘consultation overload’ and often just do not have the time or resources to respond to every one of them, I note from the responses listed at: ( ) that a number of respondents were clearly against such a blanket ban. The moving response from the Cheekpoint Association in Ireland that so clearly illustrates the massive socio economic impacts of the loss of fishing on their local community that should by itself give you pause for thought in relation to EU fisheries management generally, as well as the drift net proposals in particular and its effects on small and vulnerable coastal groups and even Greenpeace Europe’s response makes it abundantly clear that they disagree at a basic level with the proposed ban and recognise the adverse impact it would have on coastal communities. These comments have been echoed more recently by Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe so there is clearly a widespread and diverse agreement that the proposals are entirely misplaced.
There are of course a number of responses from those that agree with your view but with the greatest of respect, some of those responses illustrate an almost complete lack of understanding, or at least the lack of will to understand the wider issues.
We would therefore ask that you urgently reconsider the blanket ban proposals that you currently espouse and take note of our comments and concerns in this respect.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you at your convenience as we are confident, and it is vital, that you can deal with the real issue of uncontrolled Mediterranean drift netting without unduly and unnecessarily impacting traditional activities that fall under the same name but differ so much in both operation and impacts.

Yours sincerely,
Jerry Percy
Chief Executive
New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association

DEFRA comment on European Commission proposal to prohibit all EU driftnet fishing

As many of you will be aware, the European Commission proposes a full prohibition on the taking on board or use of any kind of driftnet in EU waters, as well as applying a more detailed definition of driftnets with the aim of closing loopholes encountered with enforcement of the current legislation (mainly in the Mediterranean). The proposed prohibition is intended to apply from 1 January 2015, subject to agreement with Member States and the European Parliament. (Commission proposal press release)

The Defra position will be supportive of adequate measures to address the enforcement of the current prohibition on driftnet fishing for highly migratory species where this has been a problem, such as in the Mediterranean.

But Defra is very aware that the Commission’s problem definition underpinning the proposal does not readily relate to UK driftnet fisheries targeting herring, bass, salmon and other species. These represent an important part of the fishing year and livelihoods of relevant inshore fishermen and, most significantly, do not have the serious by-catch or enforcement issues that the Commission is trying to address. Our liaison with the Devolved Administrations indicates this view is representative of a UK position.

Rather than the proposed blanket EU measures, therefore, the UK negotiating position on this proposal will be to seek alternatives such as the application of a risk-based regional approach, particularly in waters around the UK – the North Sea, Channel, and Western waters – an approach which will ensure that the right fisheries are monitored and required to take appropriate mitigation action where needed.

This approach is in line with the existing requirements of the EU cetacean by-catch regulation (812/2004) which targets controls on bottom set gill and entanglement nets in ICES Areas IV (North Sea) and VII (western waters), which is where the related by-catch has more typically been an issue in these areas, rather than driftnets, particularly in consideration of the way driftnets are typically deployed and attended in UK waters. We consider a ban of any kind is inappropriate in the context of our UK driftnet fisheries.

The next step is for Member States to make representations in Council working group in Brussels – where we anticipatediscussions will probably commence from July onwards.

In the meantime we would welcome any comments or views on our intended approach in responding to this proposal as described above, or any additional perspective you can offer to inform our position. These should be returned to the above mailbox address - - for the attention of my colleague Iain Glasgow – such views would be most helpful before the end of June.

February 4th 2014 Press Release – Immediate The New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) has welcomed the announcement by Welsh Minister Alun Davies of aid for Welsh fishermen hit by the recent storms. Jerry Percy, Chief Executive said, “The vast majority of Welsh fishermen use pots and nets to catch lobster, crab and whelks. The relentless ferocity of the storms that have smashed into Wales in the last couple of months has resulted in serious gear losses, with many fishermen having had no income since mid December. Fishing is a risky business at the best of times, for the fishermen themselves and for their boats and gear. We have always accepted that but this unprecedented spell of storms has wreaked havoc around the Welsh coast, destroying the only means of livelihood for many” The Welsh Government has announced a scheme to pay for gear repair and replacement but has yet to finalise details of just how much they can afford to provide and on what basis. Mr Percy continued, “with gear being the second biggest investment after the boat for most fishermen, there is little prospect of any earnings in the near future. They will have to spend a lot of time searching for gear and if they find it, untangling ropes, bringing it all ashore, repairing or replacing it before being able to set it fishing again. We are genuinely grateful to the Minister and hope that he will be able to provide meaningful support once details of the scheme have been sorted out”

Compensation News

Past pleas for compensation for fishermen, whether caused by fuel crises or bad weather have often fallen on deaf ears whereas land based food producers have been given significant financial support in the face of natural disasters. It is however clear that this time the Government are listening to what we in the industry are saying and NUTFA is particularly pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister is urging the Government to provide access to hardship funds for desperate fishermen in the same way that farmers and others are able to do so. Apart from the fact that the majority of fishermen, especially in the under tens have had no income since before Christmas, as so many of them rely on static gear, they are facing a double whammy with what will undoubtedly be a massive loss of gear that they were unable to retrieve before the storms hit.
It is of course not only the fishermen themselves who are on the brink of bankruptcy but ancillary businesses as well. If we lose even more infrastructure such as wholesalers and processors who have been starved of supplies for so long then the future for small scale providers will be even more precarious.
Our pleas for support come at the same time as the European Parliament has just consented to 140 million euros over four years to keep European, mainly Spanish vessels fishing through access to Morocco waters and if they can do that then surely they can spare a few quid out of the billions they have in their kitty for our fleet that is in such dire distress?

Seafarers UK has pledged £50,000 to The Fishermen's Mission's Urgent Appeal – see

Immediate emergency grants of up to £500 are being made available to fishermen who are in need.
These can be used to help pay rent, bills and for food.

Please contact The Fishermen's Mission for more information.

Nick Harvey
Campaigns Manager
Seafarers UK

3rd February 2014: Continuation of Leasing for Under Tens
The MMO’s decision to continue and extend access to quota leasing by under tens for another year is little more than an ongoing attempt to paper over the cracks in the UK quota system, whilst they scrabble for a solution to the problems they inherited from their predecessors and that have been brought into more recent sharp focus by the Judicial Review, lost by UKAFPO last year.
Having originally promised in writing some years ago that leasing for under tens would be for one year only, specifically in order to allow those under tens whose operations were more akin to an over ten operator, time to decide whether to stay in the pool or move to a PO, the year on year continuation of these arrangements only serves to prop up an unjust system that undermines attempts to deliver a fairer method of allocation.
The Government is in effect encouraging and facilitating a market in a commodity that would otherwise have no market value. All well and good for those holders sitting on large quantities of unused quota but increasingly a problem for many working fishermen, irrespective of sector.
NUTFA recognises that the business model of some larger under tens is based on the ability to lease and it is not for NUTFA to interfere in that respect. But the fact remains that the High Court made it abundantly clear last year that current holders have no legitimate expectation to any future allocation, irrespective of their FQA holdings and that quota not used has no market value. On that basis, the government’s facilitation of quota leasing is iniquitous, unfair and undermines in both spirit and substance how access to a national resource should be managed and allocated.
What fishermen who are reliant on leasing need to recognise is that there is a perfect storm coming in the shape of the landings obligation [discard ban]. A quick look at the figures for unused quota within the over ten sector, allied to a glance at the recently published FQA Register illustrates clearly that much of the quota entitlements that ostensibly “belong” to UK fishermen are in fact in the hands of non fishers and / or foreign ownership. A respected representative of many large whitefish boats north of the border also made it very clear last year that the ever increasing cost of and access to quota is a major contributory factor in the loss of many otherwise viable fishing businesses.
The decision by the MMO in respect of under ten leasing serves not only to undermine the intent of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s original statement that quota should only be in the hands of working fishermen, but also helps to line the pockets of many existing larger scale quota holders entirely at the expense of exactly those ordinary hard working fishermen

December 2013: Total Allowable Catches and Quotas for Next Year.

On December 18th, the EU Fisheries Council met in Brussels to consider the proposals from the European Commission with regard to quotas for 2014.
NUTFA had made both verbal and written comments relating to the proposals and whilst representatives of larger vessels subject to Days at Sea requirements were pleased that these had not been subject to reduction, the headline figures of 23 stocks with reduced quotas, 12 with no change and only 5 increased [Some north Sea quota decisions are still subject to agreement or change during the EU/Norway negotiations in January 2014], things don't look a whole lot brighter for inshore vessels for 2014.
Here is the breakdown taken from the EU Website that can be found by pasting this link into your Browser:

Area & Stock Change from 2013 Allocation Initial Commission Proposal
North Sea Cod -42% -42%
North Sea Monk -10% -20%
North Sea Haddock -41% -41%
North Sea Whiting -40% -40%
North Sea Hake +18% +18%
North Sea Lemons 0% -7%
North Sea Ling -20% -20%
North Sea Nethrops -11% -11%
North Sea Plaice -20% -20%
North Sea Turbot & Brill 0% 0%
North Sea Skates & Rays 0% -20%
North Sea Sprat -19% -19%
VIIA COD -20% -20%
VIID COD -30% -30%
VII Remainder COD -33% -33%
VII MONK +15% 0%
VII B-K HADDOCK -33% -75%
VIIB-K WHITING -22% -22%
VII HAKE +18% +18%
VII LING -20% -20%
VIIA PLAICE -25% -32%
VIIDE PLAICE -17% -17%
VIIFG PLAICE +25% +20%
VII Remainder SKATE & RAYS -10% -20%
VIIA SOLE -18% -32%
VIID SOLE -25% -45%
VIIE SOLE -7% -7%
VIIFG SOLE -9% -16%

Note: The quotas for those North Sea stocks shared with Norway such as Cod, Whiting, Mackerel and Haddock will only be finally agreed following the EU/Norway talks in late January. UK Ministers have put forward a coherent argument in favour of an increase in Cod quota in this respect.

July 2013:

With the ink now hopefully beginning to dry on the new CFP, the inshore fleet have a one off opportunity to benefit from a rebalancing of quota allocation that would reflect not only their environmental sustainability but also their recognised social, economic and cultural importance to coastal communities.
In an era where jobs are sometimes difficult to come by, NUTFA is quite genuinely of the opinion that ensuring adequate access to quota for the smaller scale fleet would generate a significant increase in work opportunities and not least for younger members of coastal communities, both in the catching sector and allied trades.
As the Minister made clear in his recent speech to Parliament with regard to the CFP, we have lost so much of what was and remains so valuable. This is not just in economic terms but also in terms of a sense of place, the knowledge and skills on which previous prosperity was built and of course the supply of local, fresh, day caught fish.
Readers may be aware of course that Article 15 of the new CFP relates to a ban on discards. It seems clear that on the one hand, fishers will be provided with a percentage of additional quota to cover at least an element of what would previously have been discarded, together with extra ‘days at sea’ to allow boats to move away from congregations of juveniles or species for which they have no quota. In the case of under tens, starting from such a low level of quota in the first place, an additional percentage based simply on past allocations will be of little if any use. As one fisherman put it to me recently, and succinctly, [although I’ve slightly edited his more blunt phrasing!], ‘30% of very little is still very little when you have very little in the first place’.
In the same vein, the award of extra ‘days at sea’, currently not applicable to under tens in any event, would be of no benefit as by definition, inshore vessels are unable to simply steam to pastures new, restricted as we are to what fish appears on our doorstep.
The great risk of the discards ban for under tens, unless it is implemented sensibly, is that with so little quota in the first place, as soon as a vessel fulfils its entitlement on any one quota species, it would be forced to stop fishing altogether. (the “choke species” scenario) [bearing in mind that in some areas, at some times in the year, under tens have no quota for species that are nevertheless present in local waters]. The vessel could potentially move to non quota species but would be unable to catch any quota species at all, accidentally or otherwise. This would of course put extra pressure on these non quota species. In its present form, and unless DEFRA designs an appropriate implementation methodology, the discard ban runs the risk of closing down the majority of inshore fishing activity almost overnight. I should say here that the DEFRA discard team are being particularly helpful on this issue and are liaising closely with NUTFA. We are cautiously hopeful for a practical outcome.
It is also the case that fish stocks in many areas are showing significant signs of improvement and this will in turn lead to higher total allowable catches for UK fishers [although the hard target of reaching Maximum Sustainable Yield for all species by 2015 will likely undermine these improvements in allocation]. This improvement in many stock levels is not least as a result of the £120 million plus paid out in the past to the larger scale fleet through publicly funded decommissioning schemes that has reduced the number of these vessels but allowed their owners to retain the quota, much of which is in either private hands or utilised by the flag ship fleet. This has in turn bought us to the imbalance in quota that is the root cause of many of our problems.
It will be of paramount importance that the benefits of the revised CFP and the increases in stock numbers accrue to the inshore fleet as a means of redressing the damage done through past overfishing. It is valid to mention here that the swingeing cuts in quota allocation suffered by the under ten fleet over many years, resulting in the almost empty beaches and harbours that we see today was not their fault yet they have suffered disproportionately.
DEFRA’s ‘2020’ vision document for fisheries speaks of an aspiration to have a vibrant and profitable smaller scale fleet, recognising the importance of this sector to coastal communities. There is now a real chance to make that vision a reality, and importantly without being considered to be ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ through taking fish from the offshore sector to benefit the under tens.
NUTFA is looking for no more than a fairer means of allocating quota for the future than that based previously on quasi ‘ownership’ rights. Amongst the many courageous reforms driven through by the Minister, Article 16[a] of the revised CFP is of paramount importance as it requires Member States to use transparent and objective criteria when allocating quota, including those of an environmental, social and economic nature. These criteria may include, inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment, the history of compliance, the contribution to the local economy and historic catch levels. Member States shall endeavour to provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact, such as reduced energy consumption or habitat damage.
Notwithstanding the inherent and very real threats within the reformed CFP outlined above, there are nevertheless some real opportunities also within the text of the Landings Obligation. These potential benefits are predicated upon DEFRA's willingness to interpret the variety of exemptions appropriately, along with the identified need to remove those technical rules that currently force discarding.
It is clear that DEFRA are keen to support the optimisation of quota and this wil need a willingness by all concerned, under and over tens, to work more cooperatively if UK PLC are to gain the greatest benefit from the new Regulations.

13.07.2013 Where now for quota?

Whilst it is always easy to be wise after the event, the outcome of the recent High Court action by UKAFPO against the Government, with the status of potentially hundreds of millions of pounds of quota at stake, for the sake of effectively 0.1% of English FQA’s, seems to have been a massive gamble that simply hasn’t paid off.
The potential ramifications of this decision, not least in relation to the use and perception of FQA’s as collateral by many ordinary and hard working fishermen and the banks respectively could be severe.
This clear verdict, summarily dismissing all of the claims made by UKAFPO, should be considered alongside the revised approach to the allocation of quota under Article 16[a] of the CFP that introduces a legal duty on Member States to consider environmental and social criteria when allocating resources.
Now before some of the more flamboyant and far fetched comments currently flying about have a chance to gain credibility simply through repetition, let’s consider how we arrived here.
The under ten sector has never had specific and dedicated representation as a single entity and despite those who would argue that we are one industry and need to stand together, [cue orchestra], the fact is that the under tens have stood alone, disenfranchised and discriminated against since the word go. These are facts that DEFRA and the industry have been forced to face up to only since the inception of the Registration of Buyers and Sellers legislation in 2006.
Richard Benyon has been the only Fisheries Minister in recent times to have had the courage to meet this issue head on. Having toured the coast, spoken with reps from all sectors as well as fishermen in the ports, consulted with his officials, considered the outputs from a variety of studies and made every effort to encourage a more collective approach to the utilisation of the national quota, he finally decided to reallocate a very small amount of constantly unused quota from the over to the under tens.
NUTFA remain entirely justified in their commitment to improving access to quota for the under tens and despite some accusations that the quota problem is particularly localised and can be addressed largely through the provision of improved leasing opportunities and that we have managed to pull the wool over the Minister’s eyes, it is abundantly clear that he is not only far too perceptive to be taken in in this way but also that his significant attempts to fairly understand the real facts have led to his stated conclusions that there is an unfairness with the inshore fleet and that many have been hanging on by their fingernails for much too long and deserve a little bit more quota.
Well you can’t get much more little than 0.1% but we recognise the Minister’s intent and are of course genuinely grateful for it.
What is valid to consider is that quota goes up, and down, by tens of per cent on an annual basis and that it is vital that UK PLC takes every advantage of what we have on a more holistic basis, rather than seek to hoard this national bounty into hands that don’t even utilise it.
What all sectors within the industry now desperately need is a far more pragmatic and considered debate than has previously been the case, as well as an absence of aggressive and inflammatory remarks that have unfortunately set the scene that has effectively prevented any meaningful dialogue.
Contrary to the aforesaid unhelpful remarks, the problems of the under tens are certainly not “merely a sideshow that should be ignored”; we do not have somewhere between 1500 and 2500 under tens who are nothing more than “souped up vessels adjusted to come in just under the 10 metre limit” and there will be absolutely no need to resume the “race to fish” purely to use up quota before anyone else can access it.
What certainly is clear is that there is a new reality and all concerned need to understand and accept it. If that is realised then there will be a real opportunity both now, and importantly for the future to ensure that the maximum possible benefit is derived from the allocation of resources on a somewhat more equitable basis than has previously been the case.

27.07.2013 Where now for open debate?

In rather the same way as you can find online reviews for any given product that range from “the best thing since sliced bread” to “don’t touch it with a barge pole”, recent comments with regard to the implications of the rights and wrongs of the Judicial Review bought by UKAFPO against the Government and the contribution to the debate made by Greenpeace and to a lesser extent other NGO’s and through them, wider society appear to follow a similar trend.
The fact is that a significant and growing part of the public find a voice through these avenues and it is both naïve and foolish to choose to ignore that or spend time arguing that one is more or less representative than another, and we do so as an industry at our peril.
Attempts to have anything like an open and balanced dialogue have not been aided by the once highly respected Fishing News sinking to new lows of journalistic integrity, publishing an almost constant diatribe of vitriole and bile, ostensibly supported by the publication of a range of strangely anonymous comments and regurgitated views that do nothing to move the debate forward but instead seek only to agitate and obfuscate. This approach also seems to be following in the footsteps of displaying apparently genuine letters although the ‘signatories’ of which have had in fact no knowledge of signing, in support of a particular view. This by a paper that we’ve all grown up with and whose banner can only be justified when it represents fairly and without bias all sectors of the industry and strives to educate and inform rather than simply inflame and aggravate.
It is NUTFA’s view that it is entirely appropriate for wider Society to have the opportunity, through any route it chooses, to observe and comment on the way that we operate as an industry, large or small. It is naïve and particularly short sighted for some to think that this is going to go away. If we are not mature enough, robust enough or honest enough to be able to fairly defend our actions then we are doing something wrong.
As an industry, we harvest a natural resource that, according to the Judge in the recent high Court action, is a public good. Some of our efforts in the past in this respect have not exactly covered us in glory. It’s easy to play to the gallery and preach to the converted but the world has moved on and like it or not, there is a much bigger audience that we have to speak to both honestly and openly. The Fisheries Minister himself has of course recognised this in his recent comments that forging improved relationships between industry and NGO’s, as NUTFA has with Greenpeace, is the way forward.
For an increasing number of stocks, we have a good news story to tell. We continue to make great strides in selectivity and reducing our impact on the marine environment. The reformed CFP offers both opportunities as well as significant threats to our way of life. If ever there was a time for a more informed and intelligent debate that recognises that we no longer operate in isolation from the rest of Society then this is it.

23.03.12 Three Steps to Survival and Profitability:

In an attempt to cut through the “noise” currently surrounding the under ten quota issue, NUTFA proposes a three pronged approach to resolving the present impasse:

There are three major aspects (as well as of course any number of minor ones) involved in moving the under ten fleet to a more sustainable and profitable position. These are:

1. increasing the amount of quota available [and making best use of it]
2. reducing the number of vessels accessing that quota [in a fair and equitable way]
3. improving the returns from fish landed [and reducing associated costs]

NUTFA has stated previously that attempting to address individual elements of the problems that beset the inshore fleet simply cannot work.
All through the following comments, reference will be made to an Inshore PO (IPO). Whilst not a solution in itself, it would act as the necessary vehicle for a number of the initiatives outlined below. Subsequent articles will explain that process in more detail.

Finding a way:
1: The Minister has made clear his intention to move a small amount of quota to the <10’s. Whilst welcome, on its own, this fish is not enough, so where does any more come from?
At present, a standard PO has sufficient resources to be able to swap quota not only with other UK PO’s but also with Europe. These internal resources come from the quota that members bought with them as well as that purchased and leased with the income derived from members subscriptions and through other means. An IPO would utilise the existing pool quota more effectively, certainly through a more focussed approach to utilisation and need, build resources in order to acquire more quota in the same way as existing PO’s as well as encouraging the Government to think outside of the box in terms of acquiring resources from further afield. In the long run, any additional quota that UK PLC can acquire will be good for the country as well as for the fleet and certainly an investment worth making.
Equally, all concerned agree that the under tens were disenfranchised from the outset and that their landings were not accounted for when TAC’s and quotas were decided. There is good reason to review this failure in both a domestic and European context as any positive outcomes would provide benefits without disadvantaging any other sector, i.e. there is nothing to lose.

2: Another area of common agreement is the need for an effective decommissioning scheme. Opinions differ as to whether it should be specifically focussed on under or over tens. In our opinion it needs to be a combination, decommissioning some over tens and redistributing the quota released as well as reducing the number of vessels reliant on quota species in the under tens, but importantly in a fair and decent manner.
Make no mistake, attempting to introduce any individual rights based system of allocation will bankrupt 100’s of boats almost overnight and so a just system of decommissioning is the only decent and acceptable way to go.
Government has made clear their problems with funding such a scheme in the current economic climate but again, there are potential alternative avenues of match funding, both within and outwith the industry that could and should be actively pursued.

3: Notwithstanding the recent drop in prices for some species, there is a growing desire for sustainably sourced fish, linked to the increased profile of inshore fisheries in the media. There is also a clear disparity between market prices obtained around the country. One of the original roles for PO’s was marketing and there is absolutely no doubt that given the right support, the inshore fleet can significantly improve returns through the efforts of an IPO in many areas. Government has thrown a great deal of money at studies and ‘sustainability’ projects so a bit more to greatly improve returns would be welcome.
NUTFA’s proposal for an IPO seeks only to create a way to pull all these threads together into a coherent model, a means of starting to address the range of problems and opportunities for this sector of the fleet. It is all about management by the fleet, for the fleet.
Up to now, the future of the under ten fleet has always been in the hands of others who have had their own aims and agendas. It’s about time that the under ten sector took responsibility for its own destiny instead of relying on others to do it for them.

14.03.12: NUTFA Update

NUTFA has been deeply involved in discussions with Defra, the PO's and the NFFO with regard to quota allocation issues for a considerable time as the under ten representative body on the Minister's Industry Working Group.
After many months of debate and argument, the Minister decided upon a small reallocation and realignment of species from the PO sector to the under tens.
This approach was based very clearly and very conservatively [too much so in our view] specifically on those stocks that were obviously surplus to the PO requirements year on year.
The amounts to be reallocated did not even take into account the quantity of quota that had been leased to under tens by the PO's as the government decided, probablyunder pressure from the PO's, that quota that had been leased was deemed to be "used" and therefore not available for realignment.
We have constantly disputed this decision as it would seem entirely logical to us that if one sector has a significant surplus of quota over and above their needs that they are able to rent it out to fishermen in dire need of it then it is fundamentally under utilised and should have been included in that definition, thereby making a proportion of it available for reallocation or realignment.
The decision not to consider it in this way merely provides a government approved conduit for PO's to continue to charge under ten fishers for the privilege of trying to make a living and using a publicly owned resource with which to do so.
In the same way, Defra have constantly refused to follow their own Rules of Quota Management that permits them to reallocate on an in year basis only, quota from one sector that has an excess over and above their operational requirements, to those who are in need of it.
Their excuses for not doing so range, amongst other things, from the apparent threat that it may encourage the race to fish (laughable in light of the current situation for many under tens), might skew the market through producing a surplus of fish on the market (see comment above), encourage a race to fish through PO members attempting to catch all their allowance before its reallocated and importantly, because “PO’s have an obligation to provide their members with the best possible fishing opportunities and financial returns from the quota allocated to them”. [my underlining].
And there’s the rub.
Whilst it is in our view only right of course for the over ten sector to have an equitable share to meet their needs from this public resource, being permitted to use their excess to hold another sector that is in dire need of additional access to this resource to ransom is fundamentally iniquitous.
You will be aware that some have always tried to characterise our aspirations on behalf of the under ten metre fleet as attempting to 'rob Peter to pay Paul' and they have now accused Nutfa of misinforming the Minister with regard to the quota needs of the under tens. [It would seem on that basis that they have not bothered to look even as far as the ports in your area for evidence that clearly contradicts that view].
Now apart from the argument that one can only rob Peter in the event that Peter actually owns the quota in the first place, and the Minister has clearly stated that fish quota is owned by Government and not therefore by definition, by private companies and individuals, there are a number of questions that need answering with respect to the holding and use of quota generally.
Apart from the amount of quota that working fishermen in the over ten sector need and utilise, there are two other segments of their part of the ‘quota pie’ worthy of consideration.
Firstly, there is the amount of quota that is, for want of a better expression, the icing on the cake and secondly, a further quantity, held by both fishers and non fishers that is clearly surplus to their individual requirements because it is available to lease to other users, specifically including the under tens.
Whilst we can argue about the icing part and how one should attempt to balance the difference between needs and wants, the latter segment of quota referred to is certainly where consideration should be given to a fairer distribution based on something other than a form of historic rights or who has the deepest pockets.
The suggested reconsideration is also on the basis that this element is currently being used as an economic weapon in an attempt to subdue both Nutfa and Government efforts to consider the aforementioned balance.
It is also the case that the PO’s curtailed any gifts or swaps to the under tens as soon as the Minister announced his intentions to even consider a reallocation. This action also underlines the need to get away from the current situation whereby the under ten sector is beholden on the mood of a number of private companies as to whether they can survive or not.
The cost of leasing quota follows an inevitably upward trend and you will have seen from reports in Fishing News that it is a problem for both under and over ten operators. You will recall the front page of FN last year with a picture of a Grimsby based pair team having to discard the best part of a 1000 box haul of Cod on the basis that it was not worth their while to pay to lease in quota to cover the catch. At the same time, a number of larger Scottish vessels were being put out of business through being unable to afford to lease quota to maintain their businesses.
Although you would struggle to make up such situations, it begs the question of who actually sets the price of the quota?
The PO’s put themselves forward as caring for their membership and of course it is not that the quota wasn’t available to the aforementioned pair team. UK PLC had sufficient, or at least someone had sufficient quota to cover the catch, but only at a price, and in that instance, and no doubt many more that we don’t hear about, too high a price to make economic sense, hence the discarding.
I don’t need to remind you of course that when Government first mooted the idea some years ago of allowing under tens to lease quota “as a temporary measure to help the fleet in the short term”, NUTFA did highlight the potential threat in the long term of so doing.
Prior to leasing, the under tens benefitted from both gifts and swaps from the over ten sector as a matter of course. Whilst we have never considered this a viable long term method of supplementing the meager resources in the under tens, these benefits were gratefully received. At the same time, NUTFA recognized the desire of some under tens to lease quota to meet their individual financial requirements.
As predicted, we now have a situation where gifts and swaps have evaporated, leasing costs increase year on year, fishers are having to fish harder and make a reduced profit to pay the quota rent and on average, something of the order of 50% of leased quota is not fished due to weather and other constraints for smaller vessels.
Irrespective of our position as the representative body for the under ten fleet, we consider that this situation is neither tenable nor equitable and we can only hope that the Minister recognises that there should be an independent root and branch review, linked to an equal consideration of how to achieve a sensible balance of UK fishing capacity between the sectors within the available fishing opportunities.
It will also be important for this review to be undertaken before the proposals for Transferable Fishing Concessions in the CFP Reform Paper possibly come to fruition and finally cement this public resource as nothing more than a private commodity [although we are not far from this now in the UK]. I have little doubt that there are some out there who are hoping that the debate is delayed sufficiently for this to occur.
We sympathise greatly with Richard Benyon who has been put into an invidious position by the historic mismanagement of the quota issue in the UK. He has said on many occasions that if he was starting from somewhere in this regard, it wouldn’t be from here. It would seem sensible therefore for the whole quota allocation and access situation to be subject to an independent enquiry to be finally sorted out for the good of all concerned.
In the meantime, the Minister should use Section 15 to reallocate quota this year in order to protect under ten metre vessels from imminent disaster and to prevent any abuse of the system through holding an unfair advantage.
Also for your information, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is little if any appetite for the Community Quota Group Pilot that Defra sought to introduce recently.
Out of the 22 applicant Groups, six were chosen, ranging from Hartlepool in the north down and round the south east coast. There were none in the SW as the Cornish FPO, who had originally offered to run one, pulled out on the basis that they refused to include any reallocated quota in the scheme, thereby making themselves ineligible.
From the plethora of phone calls received, it certainly appears that the quota offers provided to the Groups, based on their previous individual track records, do not come close to what they have actually fished from the pool quota. I had e mailed Defra at the request of some members just to ensure that the offers provided were in fact all the fish quota that would be available. Defra has assured me that it is so although I gather that officials are touring the successful Groups in an attempt to persuade them to take up the offers.
Apart from any other considerations, the lack of an amount of quota at least equal to previous catches by the Group members does call into question the veracity and accuracy of the system of recording under ten metre catches bought in during the mid 2000’s under the Registration of Buyers and Sellers legislation. As you know, this puts the responsibility for reporting the landings of the under tens onto the shoulders of the first sale buyers.
We have never been comfortable with this approach, not only because it fails to give due responsibility to the fishermen themselves but also because there appears to be no checks on the effectiveness of the system. When we have questioned Defra with regard to their confidence levels in the data provided, they have only ever answered that it is the best they have. Hardly a ringing endorsement.
We take no pleasure at all in the apparent failure of the Community Groups. We do however maintain our view that there is no evidence that the introduction of a rights based system to the under ten sector will provide any lasting benefits but plenty of examples elsewhere in Europe and further afield that it will cause irreparable harm, not only to the fishermen themselves, but also to the wider fishing communities that they support.
At the same time, we recognize the need to consider a well managed and focused round of decommissioning for both sectors in order to address the outstanding capacity issues that Defra has failed to address over many years.
Any such scheme needs to also include the removal of quota linked to a fishing licence and not only the removal of vessel and licence themselves.
This has been the Achilles Heel of previous rounds of decommissioning whereby an over ten operator takes state aid to remove both vessel and licence from the Register yet is permitted to retain the quota entitlement.
He then has a choice of either becoming a ‘slipper skipper’, sitting back and leasing out the quota to working fishermen or using the state money to buy a more modern and efficient vessel with which to pursue his retained quota allocation.
It is little wonder therefore that the EU Court of Auditors was so critical of publicly funded decommissioning schemes across Europe. In the UK, by Defra’s own admission, they spent about £126 million on decommissioning in the over ten metre sector that in some cases actually increased fishing capacity.
In the event that we do manage to get a well managed and focused decommissioning scheme then it would provide a double benefit to the fleet. By decommissioning over tens, such a scheme would not only reduce the physical capacity of that sector but could also move the state aided quota acquired into the under ten sector to make a meaningful contribution to redressing the balance.
It would of course also be necessary to consider the balance between capacity and fishing opportunities within the under ten sector and as you know, NUTFA’s suggestion for an inshore PO type body begins to address this issue.
NUTFA will shortly be coming to a port near you, and everywhere else around the English coast to publicise the Inshore PO initiative, to answer questions in that respect and to take on board fishermen’s and others comments to hone the idea into a workable system. It will be of particular importance that we make clear that this idea differs from the standard PO model in one major respect, that it would not seek to allocate fishing rights to individuals but would ring fence, protect and manage the existing Pool quota in a more effective way. Management by fishermen, for fishermen.
There are the other benefits to the scheme that you are aware of and I am really looking forward to further refining the approach in discussion with the under ten fleet.
I was intending to also update you on CFP issues but suffice to say that NUTFA is fully engaged with the UK Government, the EU Commission and the Members of the European Parliament in this regard and are actively promoting real change to the current Policy in respect of the small scale fleet through the provision of a number of suggested amendments to the draft text of the next CFP and face to face discussions.

10.12.11: Community Quota Group Pilot Project Response

As an integral part of the Industry Working Group, set up by the current Fisheries Minister, and following the Defra consultation earlier in the year, the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (Nutfa) continues to be at the forefront in terms of seeking changes to the current imbalance of fishing opportunities.

Every reader of Fishing News will of course be aware of the extensive tour undertaken by Nutfa to give inshore fishers the opportunity to have their say in relation to Defra’s proposals for the introduction of fixed quota allocations (FQA’s), based on an individual’s track record, and have their say they did indeed!
Nutfa take their lead from these fishermen and continues to put forward a strong case for changes to the status quo, not least as under ten metre fishermen around the coast gave an almost unanimous thumbs down to the Defra proposals for individual FQA’s.
Jerry Percy, Chief Executive to Nutfa told Fishing News, “since fishermen heard of Defra’s recent proposal to undertake pilot projects based on FQA’s, we have been seriously overwhelmed by the number of calls from members and others asking what is going on.
Many of the comments suggest somewhat bluntly that as they expected, Defra are taking no notice of the response to the consultation by the fleet and are intent of pushing through their own agenda, ignoring the wishes of the majority.
Although it’s too early to talk about the proposed pilots in detail as Defra have yet to announce the basis for them, the under tens can be assured that Nutfa have made clear their opposition to the FQA route for their sector and remain unclear as to what Defra is seeking to achieve against such a solid rejection by fishermen during the consultation.
At the same time, everyone recognises that things need to improve dramatically and very quickly for the under tens and Nutfa have put forward their own ideas, based on the view of many around the coast, for an inshore PO, importantly based not on individual FQA’s but for the inshore sector taking over, improving and enhancing the existing pool system, genuinely managed by the industry, for the industry.
The level of frustration illustrated by so many calls from fishers at what they see as Defra just carrying on regardless and wasting yet more time whilst they struggle to survive is hardly surprising. We will continue to reflect the anger of the fleet to Government and demand a fairer deal for these fishermen. I hope the calls keep coming as it shows that fishermen are waking up to what is going on and that this is the last chance for us to finally get a fair deal for them for their futures”.

9.12.11: Need for Appeals Procedure

Defra’s recent proposals for the under ten sector are based on the allocation of individual quota allocations (FQA’s) based in turn on a boat’s (or more specifically, an individual licence’s) track record over the reference period between 2007 and 2010 inclusive.

During Nutfa’s extensive tour of English ports earlier this year, a very significant number of fishers around the coast asked what the situation would be as they had sold or bought a boat during the reference period or since and had therefore unknowingly sold away their track record or bought a boat without an appropriate track record. Indeed, no one had thought of this scenario at that time as under tens had never previously operated on an individual track record basis. Defra’s response during the consultation was that there would have to be an appeals procedure to consider cases on an individual basis.

Nutfa has recently made specific enquiries with Defra on behalf of a member who, like so many others, had changed boats (in this instance, the member had built himself a new one) and was now looking for a licence as he had previously sold his old boat and licence (and of course unknowingly, his long term and local track record). Did he go for a straight under ten licence without any track record on the basis that Defra’s proposals may not come in or should he hunt around for a licence with a suitable track record, should one actually be available, to ensure that he could actually go fishing from his home port?
Defra are unable to satisfactorily answer the questions posed and have merely suggested that the fisherman concerned will have to make a business decision in the real world, hardly a helpful response and not least when a suitable licence would be many thousands of pounds and yet could turn out to be worthless to the fisherman concerned, depending on the outcome of Defra’s ongoing pursuit of the FQA route for under tens.

Nutfa have also raised concerns regarding the time it will take for the recently publicised Defra FQA pilot projects to be implemented and trialled, especially against a background of numerous ongoing vessel transfers that will potentially leave long term and experienced fishermen with no track record as it goes with the boat rather than remaining with the fisher.
Nutfa estimates that there are literally hundreds of under ten metre fishermen around the coast that will be queuing at the appeals desk having unknowingly given up their local track record or bought a licence with nothing useful on it (and God knows what’s going to happen with licence transfers between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland!!) Defra have said that if you’ve bought a licence that turns out to have an inappropriate track record on it then you could potentially sell that track record to someone who needs it and use the money to buy something suitable locally!
A further question with regard to the fisherman above and others is in terms of the Appeals procedure, how would it work and where would the fish come from to continue to provide a livelihood in the event of a successful appeal?
It would, according to Defra, of course have to come from within the existing under ten metre pool. This in turn would further reduce the fish available to existing licence holders who would see their own FQA’s reduce to provide fish for every successful appellant.

Whatever happens, there are an increasing number of under ten metre fishers who are in licence limbo and urgently need some answers in order to be able to make informed business decisions or know whether they are even going to be in business in the future at all.

7.11.11: Nutfa provide details of their proposals for an Inshore Producer Organisation

The New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (Nutfa) has reached agreement with Defra to pursue an initiative for the creation of an inshore Producer Organisation (PO) for the benefit of inshore fishermen, alongside the government proposals for community quota groups.
The inshore PO will however differ significantly from existing PO’s in one vital aspect, by maintaining the collective, rather than individual holding of quota.

Jerry Percy, Chief Executive to Nutfa said, “we have spent a great deal of time talking with Defra and others on the Industry Working Group in an attempt to find a route through the historic inequalities of quota allocation and management, in an attempt to get a better deal for inshore fishermen. It has been anything but easy, not least as civil servants and those that benefit from the status quo are never keen to implement change that will have an effect on vested interests. Defra have proposed community quota groups that Nutfa consider simply a way for government to privatise a public resource through introducing rights based management to the inshore fleet. There are any number of global examples that demonstrate time and again that small scale fishers inevitably lose out to larger and more powerful economic players with this approach.
We are all starting from anything but a clean sheet and unless there is a way for inshore fishers to ring fence and protect the existing pool quota as a first step, subsequently augmented by quota from other sources, equally protected, then we believe without doubt that fishermen will suffer in the long run”.
Nutfa’s proposals to Defra include taking an incremental approach, recognising that setting up an inshore PO is more complex than a simple community group, but at the same time, significantly more beneficial to under ten metre fishers once sorted.
Taking over the management of the pool quota as a first step will for the first time give under tens effective influence over their own destiny through management by the industry, for the industry.
Jerry continued, “this is not an easy process to explain in brief but this approach will allow an industry wide group to manage allocations for wider purposes than the MMO is permitted to do, it will be focussed entirely on industry needs and will give inshore guys a seat at the table on equal terms to the existing PO’s. It will include the reallocated and realigned species mentioned in the Defra proposals and with EFF and Defra financial support, along with membership fees in keeping with existing PO’s , will finally allow under tens to begin to develop a resource base that it is currently lacking. Of course we cannot hope to immediately achieve the same level of resources as PO’s enjoy at present but we have to start somewhere. You get what you pay for in life and it is little wonder that the inshore sector has been shafted so royally over the years when they have not recognised the need to have effective representation. An inshore PO will also need to develop resources for marketing as all concerned have realised that first sale prices to fishers in some areas are woefully inadequate”.
Comments from fishermen during Nutfa’s recent tour of ports confirmed the need for the inshore fleet to take charge of their own destiny, recognising that there are a number of issues that will need to be faced in the immediate future if the inshore fleet is ever going to become economically viable. Based on these comments, it is Nutfa’s view that whilst local community quota groups run the risk of pitting fisherman against fisherman and group against group, a single inshore PO would have the critical mass necessary to have a real influence on policy and procedures that have been for too long biased against them.
Issues that only an inshore PO can address fairly and favourably for under ten metre interests include dealing with potential latent and dormant capacity, the acquisition of quota, the protection of quota within the inshore “family, including avoiding aggregation by more powerful economic interests within the sector and being able to stand up on both the national and international stage in support of inshore fishermen.
Jerry concluded, “under ten metre fishermen need to realise that they are valid businesses and act accordingly. The current RBS catch reporting system is a failure and has seriously undervalued the landings of inshore boats. We need to take responsibility for recording and reporting our own catches, we need to collectively decide on access to fisheries because if we don’t you can be sure that others will! Importantly, fishermen need to understand that there is an alternative on the table to the community quota groups and although Defra support the idea, they only took one line to describe it in their recent proposals document. Fishermen really need to be telling Defra to support Nutfa to get the project up and running alongside the community schemes in order to provide a real and genuine alternative option for them.

3.11.11: New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association urges caution for Community Quota Groups

The New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (Nutfa) is cautioning fishermen considering signing up to the Defra offer of Community Quota Schemes (CQS) to ensure that they have all the details in front of them before making a commitment.

Jerry Percy, Chief Executive to Nutfa said, “the under ten metre fleet has been entirely disenfranchised by the historic and grossly unfair division of fish quota over many years. Defra’s current proposals seek to cement that iniquity once and for all, there will be no going back. We recognise that many in the over ten metre sector are also struggling to survive but two wrongs don’t make a right and all fishermen should now be demanding a review of who holds, and has access to the quota”.
With demand for both fish and fish quota rising, together with under ten boats having access to only around 4% of the UK quota, Nutfa are emphatic that inshore fishers can no longer accept the choice between being held to ransom by fat cats demanding more and more money to lease quota, a public resource, or losing their businesses and livelihood.
“Defra have attempted to change the way that inshore fishers can access and manage their own quota but the side effects of their proposals bear close scrutiny. Where other countries have introduced similar schemes, it has inevitably been the smaller guys who have lost out, not only destroying fishing families with hundreds of years of tradition behind them but also vulnerable coastal communities where there are often no alternative employment prospects. This is precisely why Nutfa has put forward a detailed alternative proposal based around an inshore Producer Organisation but focussing on collective rather than individual holding of quota, ring fencing and protecting the resource, rather than making it available to the highest bidder as a rights based system would do. Nutfa entirely understand why fishermen may well decide to sign up to community pilots but urge fishers to just make very sure what the implications will be in both the short and long term before they do so. The devil, as ever is in the detail and Defra have yet to provide sufficient information for anyone to fully understand what the effects of these groups will be for individual inshore fishermen”.

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