The meeting, chaired by Defra, involved NFFO, NUTFA and UKAFPO, and was convened to find a way through the complex of problems that have put the inshore fleet under extreme pressure. Bringing together industry representatives from all segments of the fleet, including the producer organisations and the under-10m fleet, has for the first time provided a sound basis for the development of constructive solutions.
The discussions were based on papers and contributions put forward by the industry organisations. A good start was made in identifying the nature of the problem and possible ways forward and seven areas in which there is broad consensus on the direction of travel were identified.
- It was agreed that some integration of the fleets was required, focussing on the higher-catching under-10s whose fishing patterns are more consistent with those of vessels operating in POs. (Discussions at future meetings will focus on how his might be achieved)
- The group agreed that producer organisations (either newly formed/specialised or existing POs) have a central role in managing reintegrated under-10m vessels into the mainstream quota management arrangements.
- It was agreed that the whole industry, including the vessels currently fishing against pool quotas, would benefit from a move away from micro-management towards self regulation.
- It is apparent that regional differences are an important factor in managing fishing activity and that it will be important to tailor measures to those regional variations.
- The EFF could provide an important source of finance to facilitate the transition.
- Addressing capacity issues in the under 10m fleet, including latent effort will be an important part of the solution.
- All parties recognise the problems facing the under 10m fleet and are committed to working together to develop firm and lasting solutions.
Whilst these crucial discussions continue, the immediate issues facing parts of the under 10m fleet are to be addressed on a fast track, with Government and POs working to remove obstacles to the operation of swaps and transfers of underutilised quota in the system.
The next meeting of the group will be held in September and in the meantime vital information on which to base decisions will be prepared.