16th January 2017, 17:31
26th January 2017, 16:53
27th January 2017, 15:51
Scottish fishing discards rules 'not enforced'
The ban on discards in the fishing industry is being undermined because it is not being effectively policed, WWF Scotland has warned.
The number of Scottish boats carrying cameras - which monitor the fish being caught - has halved since the scheme was introduced.
New species were added to the ban at the start of January.
They include North Sea cod and whiting, which can no longer be thrown back into the sea.
Fishermen have traditionally discarded unwanted fish because they carry a lower financial value but, if landed, would count against their quotas.
The environmental group says the fall in Remote Electronic Monitoring compromises stock management.
Figures from the Scottish government show there are now just 15 boats carrying cameras.
When the scheme was first introduced in 2014, there were 32.
Until this year, skippers were allowed an additional quota for North Sea cod if they agreed to install the camera equipment, but that incentive has ended.
The ban on discards is covered by Landing Obligations which are being phased in over a number of years. They identify which species have to be brought ashore once they are caught.
Helen McLachlan, the fisheries governance programme manager at WWF Scotland, said: "WWF is supportive of the Landing Obligation because, if implemented, effectively it offers clear opportunities, the most obvious of which is healthier fish stocks and a more resilient, profitable industry as a result.
"However, with North Sea cod and whiting coming under the discard ban at the start of 2017, we have significant concerns about the levels of monitoring and control of the ban.
"For this policy to work we need to be confident we know what is happening at sea and how much fish is being removed. Yet, on average, it appears that less than one per cent of fishing trips are being monitored."
The fishing industry has been opposed to the "inflexible" way in which the discard ban has been implemented under the Common Fisheries Policy.
They say the regulations are the problem rather than monitoring.
Bertie Armstron, chief executive of the Scottish Fisherermen's Federation, said: "Everybody's on the same side with reducing discards as far as physically possible. It's just a question of getting the rules right, which is a work in progress.
"Cameras, frankly, are a little sideshow and the presence or absence of them will not solve or fail to solve the problem."
Quota incentives for other species still exist under the scheme, even though the incentive for North Sea cod has ended.
By 2019, the disposal of all fish at sea will be banned.
A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "No-one wants to see dead fish being thrown back into the sea - least of all our fishermen.
"Our fleet has already made good progress to reduce the level of discarded fish in Scotland and we are working hard to ensure the ban is implemented in a pragmatic, proportionate and phased way.
"If managed sensibly, the landing obligation will be good for Scotland and help the conservation of fish stocks that offer up dependable and sustainable catches for fishermen."
27th January 2017, 15:53
30th January 2017, 17:24
Scottish fishermen welcome new report on recovering fish stocks
7th February 2017, 16:03
9th February 2017, 15:25
Halt the North Sea Annual Plan
Last week the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee discussed The Multi-annual Plan for Demersal Stocks in the North Sea. Each of the interventions in the debate (and sadly I was the only Scot who spoke) was ‘worthy’. Chief negotiator, Ulrike Rodust, a Socialist from Germany, is no friend of the fishermen’s having previously called for new red tape into the fishing industry, in the form of extra technical measures for the Common Fisheries Policy.
Some MEPs spoke of the importance of the maximum sustainable yield and the precautionary approach, a few spoke of the need to enforce the discard ban to the max, others the need to give certainty to fishermen. A lone voice asked the pertinent question, ‘What about the Norwegians?’ And finally someone noticed the blue whale in the room, ‘We need to recognise that Brexit will happen…’
It teed up my intervention nicely: ‘Stop!’ Followed by the observation that legislating for a sea basin over which you will shortly be responsible for only 30% of the waters was ‘nonsense on stilts.’ I think it would be fair to say that my comments were not warmly welcomed by the MEPs assembled.
For some time I have been pointing out the problems in implementing a North Sea Management Plan. However, let me rehearse them once again.
When the UK leaves the EU, the Common Fisheries Policy will no longer apply to British waters. That in itself would seem to be reason enough not to go through the palaver of legislating for 70% of the North Sea that will not be under the EU’s control. However, some have said, ‘Hold on now. The Great Reform Act proposed by Theresa May simply repatriates EU laws, and so the CFP rules will apply until the UK Government gets round to revising or rescinding them. That could take years.’ The problem with that analysis is that the North Sea Plan contains a number of what are known as ‘delegated acts.’ These acts empower the European Commission to revise and update the directive without a need to create new legislation. Does anyone reading this seriously believe that after Brexit, we will delegate any powers to the European Commission? Didn’t think so. In short order the North Sea Plan will be revised.
So, sometime in 2019 the hard labour of the European Fisheries Committee will be revisited by Westminster and Holyrood. If it is good for Scottish and English fishermen, then elements may survive. If it isn’t, it’s done for. How much would you bet on a piece of EU fisheries legislation being good for UK fishermen?
To those who tell me that reforming the management of the North Sea is ‘urgent’ I have only one question: more urgent than reforming the management of the Mediterranean? Where vessels tow nets that resemble a grand pair of tights, from which even minnows struggle to escape? Or the Adriatic, or the waters of the Iberian Peninsula? All of which remain untouched by the dead hand of EU legislators. Why prioritise the North Sea now?
So, for the time being, the merry legislative sausage-makers of the EU will continue to legislate for British waters. But the clock is ticking. And high noon is fast approaching.
This article orginally appeared in the Fishing News on 09/02/2017.
You can find more news on Scotland's fishing industry on Fishing News' website here: http://fishingnews.co.uk/
22nd February 2017, 15:10
14th March 2017, 15:37
16th March 2017, 16:50
Choke or crying wolf?
An assessment by Philip Taylor, campaign manager for Open Seas, and Griffin Carpenter, an economic modeller at the New Economics Foundation, concludes that fears of a choke on fishing in the UK’s hake, saithe, whiting and haddock fisheries in 2016 did not materialise.
In the aftermath of the 2016 phase of the Landing Obligation being phased in, Taylor and Carpenter explain in an assessment published at cfooduw.org/ there is no evidence of a more rapid uptake of quota in 2016 than in previous years. They comment that this might have been expected if significantly more fish were being caught and landed due to the ban.
They admit that there are suggestions that the reason for this could be that because discarding at sea has continued in spite of the ban on discards, although investigating this possibility does not fall within the remit of their report and they add that the results for hake indicate that the discard ban has been implemented for that species.
‘Overall annual landings for hake and haddock were up on 2015, saithe and whiting landings were marginally down. Hake landings have been increasing for some time, however, given that 2016 landings in the North Sea saw a 69% increase, it is reasonable to consider the changes a result of the discard ban and the quota swaps which were made by the UK to address the larger than normal landings caused by the discard ban,’ they state.
‘Annual sales of all three of these species at Peterhead market were up on 2015. This was most significantly for hake, which saw a 48% increase. Whiting saw a 32% increase, saithe a 22% increase and medium and large haddock a 6% increase. There was a significant change in the number of both small and small round haddock sold. However, it seems likely that this was due to a change in practice which sees more small round haddock being prepared (and therefore sold as “small”) before being taken to market.’
Taylor and Carpenter point out that the amounts of hake sold at Peterhead market in the first two months of the year was significantly less than in 2015 and 2014 and the reasons for this remain unclear. Also unclear are the reasons for the volumes of large and medium haddock sold at the market in the first three months of the year which were significantly more than in 2015 and 2014.
According to their findings, Peterhead might not be the only example of a market affected by the 2016 discard ban and might not be the best case study.
‘The Dutch plaice and sole fishery and the Spanish hake fishery also deserve attention,’ they suggest.
‘Overall, fisheries catching and markets selling hake, saithe and haddock appear to have not been significantly impacted by the 2016 Landing Obligation rules. This might be thanks to the fact that the exceptions and derogations given allowed those fisheries with highest discard rates to continue, but may also be a result of well thought out quota swaps made throughout the year and improved selectivity and avoidance achieved by the fleets,’ they state.
‘Although the 2017 Landing Obligation rules are stricter and many are still concerned about choke species, the evidence presented here suggests that the fisheries will be able to adapt to the rules and continue to land and bring fish to market effectively.’
The full text of their assessment can be found at: http://cfooduw.org/the-2016-discard-...r-crying-wolf/