Fishing for Leave giving evidence to the Fisheries Bill Committee.

Fishing for Leave giving evidence to the Fisheries Bill Committee.

The Governments White Paper had many noble aspirations that gave many fishermen hope. Sadly, many of these have disappeared from the Bill.

The government can protest it will follow its White Paper promises but this governments promises have been proved to have little currency.  **Click The Image To Link To The Video Below**


FFL want to see a legislative commitment to –

1) Entirely scrap the CFP and any bind to it on exit day (29/03/19) with the UK reverting to domestic legislation and international law under UNCLOS – which gives exclusivity of sovereign rights over all waters and resources.

2) Legislate that the government must abide by the international principle of Zonal Attachment – that gives nations fair shares of resources based on the predominance of species in its waters.

3) Legislate that British fishing resources can never be bartered or sold out as part of non-fishing deals in the future.

4) Legislate a strong Economic Link – where a UK fishing vessel must be 60% British owned, 60% British crewed (after 5years of training a new generation to replace one lost) and that 60% of British vessels catches must be landed, sold and processed in the UK.    This is to ensure that Britain and her coastal communities realise maximum economic benefit of a national resource and curtail foreign ownership that now holds half of the poor share Britain does get from the EU.

5) Legislate on Fair Distribution of Repatriated Resources – all the extra resources the UK automatically regains upon withdrawal should be distributed to all fishermen and communities to give everyone – large or small – the chance to flourish and rejuvenate coastal communities.  These resources must not be given out through the corporatized FQA entitlement units share system which has consolidated into the hands of a few.

6) Legislate to End Slipper Skippers – currently anyone can hold FQA entitlement units to get a share of quota. Many shore based individuals hold FQAs but then rent their entitlement to active fishermen at exorbitant cost. This is bleeding the hard working active fishermen of 60% of their profit and wages.

As in Norway, Iceland and Faroe the UK must stipulate that any fishing entitlement must be on an active vessel within two years – use it or lose it back to the national pot.

7) Legislate that Foreign boats licensed to fish in British waters can only be granted an annual (not permanent license). Must land their catch into Britain to ensure compliance and economic benefit to the UK from UK resources and cannot fish inside the 12nm limit which should be reserved for UK fishermen only.

8) Legislate for a ban on industrial Sandeel fishing and Electric Pulse Fishing with towed gear – The EU gave a derogation (against scientific advice) to allow mainly Dutch boats to use electric fishing. Areas where it has been used have seen severe environmental damage. Industrial Sandeel fishing removes a crucial food source – hundreds of thousands of tons taken by Danish fishermen to be used as pig feed.

9) Effort Control Trial – quotas have failed in mixed fisheries for 30years. They force fishermen to discard whilst having to keep fishing to find what their strict quotas allow them to keep. Quotas cause inaccurate data as what is recorded only ever reflects the quota set. It is a self-fulfilling loop of; inaccurate data; inaccurate quota; inaccurate catch; inaccurate data.

Fishing for Leave have developed an alternative discard free system of limiting time at sea to a sustainable level allowing fishermen to keep all catches in exchange for the time limit.

This is conjoined with a system of Flexible Catch Compositions that guides fishermen to keep a sustainable mix of species but gives the flexibility to land and record accurately any “wrong” species in exchange for a reduction in fishing time.

Catch less but land more whilst generating accurate science for accurate management.

The government promised a trial but there’s no legal commitment to trial new policy. This must happen as we have nothing to lose but everything to gain in replacing dysfunctional failed policy.

10) No clear requirement to ensure management policy is built to allow delivery of accurate data to ensure management is set to ensure sustainable limits and a balanced harvest of the ecology. Rather than setting strict theoretical targets and then trying to bludgeon industry to meet them.

What was in the Bill but needs removed are:

1) MMO Charging Powers – government agencies can set policy and then charge industry for the privilege. Management must be about streamlined cost reduction through good policy not cost recovery for bureaucracy.

Any industry charge should be a percentage based levy so it is proportionate cost on large and small and can only be granted if government proves a statutory requirement that the money is well spent on science, marketing etc not funding burdensome bureaucracy of jobs for boys.

2) Reverse Arbitrary Powers – The bill is constructed on negative resolution procedure which gives power for the executive to set laws which can only be undone with difficulty retrospectively by parliament.

The bill should operate on positive resolution procedure where the executive must put management proposals and changes before parliament first for scrutiny and amendment before they become law.

Failure to do this will replace an autocracy run from Brussels with an autocracy run from Whitehall.

3) Discard Charge – Government proposes using repatriated resources to give vessels extra quota to avoid a 2choke species” where vessels must stop fishing on exhausting their lowest quota to avoid putting back to sea and discarding.   The government will give vessels extra to cover what they do not have but so as there is no economic incentive to target this quota it must be landed for free.

Vessels and crews will have to spend more work, time and fuel at sea handling fish they cannot profit from. There is no thought or provision as to what happens to this fish that cannot have a monetary value when it is landed.

It does not address the cause of discards – that quotas don’t work. It just tries to administratively mitigate the problem be throwing in extra quota head room to allow boats to go to sea. It ignores that this still doesn’t solve the core quota problem that science only see’s landed what the quota allows rather than a true representation of what is in the sea. This means quotas will still be misaligned to nature and there will still be ‘choke species’ where quotas are still far behind abundance even with extra repatriated resources. THIS IS A CRAZY PROPOSAL THAT MUST BE CHOPPED!

4) Devolution – far too many powers are given to Devolved administrations. This will lead to a balkanisation of UK waters under 4 differing administrations. Fishermen will be aught as a football among political infighting. It means the UK must honour cheques at an international level but it will be the devolved admins writing them.

All of the above amendments must be added or removed if we are to see a rejuvenated British industry that could be a £6-8bn world leader. The fisheries bill falls far short of delivering this as promised in the White Paper.

None of the above amendments run contrary to stated government policy- they actually only ask and hold the government to its promises and commitments.

However, given recent form, we worry that so much is missing not to simplify the bill but because the government has no intention of honouring the White Paper – we hope to be proved wrong. If the government resists what is suggested above it will be clear to all that we are right.