FFL hopes the federations Rhetoric will be matched by Results.

Last week two of the UK’s representative organisations for commercial fishermen – the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) – agreed upon common principles. Saying they will get the best possible deal for coastal communities in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

Fishing for Leave have issued this statement in response, welcoming the adoption of many FFL positions, but FFL would like to question how the federations will get results to match the rhetoric.

Fishing for Leave are pleased to hear that, after their position of neutrality during the referendum, in which Fishing for Leave played its significant part, the two federations welcome Brexit.

We would like to make these points below-

1) We are delighted to hear that both federations agree with Fishing for Leave on the position FFL identified over two months ago, that there must be no roll-over of the current Common Fisheries Policy.

However, we feel it critical to emphasize that, if the UK continues with the current EU mechanisms of management – namely EU quotas as the federations want – then the industry will have acquiesced to starting from the status quo.

Adopting/continuing with quotas will create enormous diplomatic problems to make a clean break and could jepordisie repatriation of UK resources (as pointed out by FFL).

2) Fishing for Leave also welcome that both federations endorse our  position that UK withdrawal should;

“secure significant economic benefit to coastal communities” and that it “must benefit all sectors of the fishing industry”.

We wholeheartedly agree and will this new partnership clarify how it intends to achieve this?

The question is who is this “sea if opportunity” for?  Is it for the whole industry or is it to benefit the few within, what was, the ever corporatising stance of the federations.

Will there be a break from, or a continuation of, “all for one and none for all”?

3) Will they also adopt FFLs position that, to break away from the increasing consolidation of the industry into the hands of a few big players and slipper skippers, that a resources amnesty should be enacted?

FFL advocates that although shares of current UK allocations and investments in them should be respected for business stability that ALL REPATRIATED resources should be de-monetarised and held in a government pool.

Resources should be allocated for the benefit of all fishermen and communities as fisheries resources belong to the nation and should be for the betterment of all not corporatised.

What FFL advocates above provides the remedy to the position that the two federations purport to advocate that there should be “Fairer shares of catching opportunity for UK vessels.” This is certainly not the case just now with the current system of management.

We hope, the SFF & NFFO can support and endorse FFLs position of a resources amnesty to help realize their statements that Brexit should benefit all, or offer an equivalent alternative to the working fishermen in the industry?

4) We welcome Mr Armstrong statement that – “Creation of a fit-for-purpose management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management ….. this is an opportunity to go beyond the limited achievements of the CFP…… in particular there is a need to devise and implement a workable discards policy”.

Indeed, future fishery management regime must have sustainable foundations and fit the ecology of the UK’s mixed demersal fisheries. However, the failed EU system of quotas do not work in UK mixed fisheries and are the cause of discards.

Policy must end the cause of discards (quotas) not ban the symptoms with catch quotas that – as highlighted by skippers and in Seafish reports – will decimate the majority of the industry with choke species.

The UK must transition to a Days-at-Sea keep what you catch system that changes current FQA Entitlements to express them as catch composition percentages. This would provide business stability on investments in FQAs whilst ending and making a clean break from arbitrary EU kg quotas.

Days-at-Sea work ecologically in a mixed fishery, reduces the regulatory burden in being simpler to administer, gives better scientific data with keep what you catch, ends sectoral in-fighting and means land more but catch less with an end to the cause of discards.

Will the federations look at and support a transition to a new and better regime from the current disaster?

5) We would also like to comment on the comments of Bertie Armstrong “It is vital that fishermen across the UK speak with a united voice”,  “The UK industry is united”  and “The UK fishing industry is speaking with one voice”

We feel Mr Armstrong is being more than disingenuous here.

The majority of the UK industry are out-with the SFF and NFFO – in fact Fishing for Leave and NUTFA individually have larger memberships than the NFFO.

There is, sadly, not one voice as despite numerous attempts to extend the hand of co-operation to the SFF it has been rebuffed and despite 2 recent attempt been ignored?

Why is this the case if the SFF really are adopting the same position as Fishing for Leave that Brexit should benefit all?

We hope, that for the industry we cherish and are fighting for heart and soul for, that this adoption of parts of what Fishing for Leave has long advocated is a genuine part of Mr Armstrong’s “damascene conversion” of the SFF from its previous stances because diplomatically, environmentally and economically we cannot continue remotely as is.

The industry is at a critical crossroads of a turn towards the sunlit uplands of a genuine fit for purpose British policy or a continuation down the path of decline under the same bad mechanisms and habits into an abyss of collapse of all but a few.

Brexit is the last gasp for many and Fishing for Leave will fight tooth and nail so this opportunity for the whole industry to survive and revive is not squandered.