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Constructive First Meeting With Minister


UK - An National Federation of Fishermen's Organisation delegation, representing the diversity of the NFFOs membership, met recently with Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon for initial discussions. The talks outlined the industrys areas of concern, built on the constructive dialogue begun when Richard Benyon was Shadow Spokesman on Fisheries.

A wide range of issues were discussed including cod recovery and effort control, Marine Conservation Zones, the application of the maximum sustainable yield approach to next years TACs, devolution, CFP reform, catch quotas, whiting discards, solutions for the problems faced by under the 10-metre fleet, western mackerel and Icelandic ambitions, Irish Sea nephrops, North East Arctic cod, long term management plan for flatfish, offshore wind-farms, producer organisations and sustainable fishing plans and zero TACs for skates, rays and spurdog.

Although the number of issues meant that they could only be addressed briefly because of time constraints, the Minister acknowledged their significance and agreed to work collaboratively with the Federation on them over the summer and autumn.

The Minister reported back on the recent Council of Ministers in Luxembourg and his discussions with Commissioner Damanaki. He had welcomed her commitment to radical changes in the CFP, and her tough stance on Iceland. However she had signalled a rigid intention to follow the science on Western Channel sole and Area VII nephrops, apparently failing to distinguish between the grass roots scientists views and the much more political advice that emerges from ICES, often heavily shaped by the Commissions priorities and perspectives. This suggests that strenuous efforts will be required before TAC decisions are made in December.

On cod recovery and whiting discards the Minister agreed that it was imperative to find a smarter way of rebuilding stocks than the current arrangements.

The Minister has already expressed enthusiasm for the Federations ideas on replacing prescriptive micro-management and the top-down approach with sustainable fishing plans and this will be one of the key innovations pressed by the UK within the forthcoming CFP reform.

This was a useful first meeting with between the new Minister and NFFO delegation and will provide a solid foundation on which to build an effective working relationship.