Future of Inshore Fisheries: Did FOIF die?
12 March 2021
The NFFO takes stock of what happened to the Future of Inshore Fisheries Initiative. Amid Covid and the general post-TCA gloom, many are wondering what happened to the Future of Inshore Fisheries initiative. The vivid flash of inspiration and optimism when fishers and managers got together, in October 2019, for the wildly successful FOIF conference seems like an eternity ago. Since then, we have been through the mill and there has been a disturbing silence about the follow up to the conference. The UK’s failure to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit seems like a nail in the coffin lid for the project.
Government Agrees to Second Financial Support Package
21 February 2021
After weeks of lobbying by the NFFO the Government has announced a further tranche of financial support for the fishing industry. An announcement has been made of a rerun of last April’s Fisheries Response Fund under a new heading of Seafood Response Fund, with a number of adjustments and on a UK rather than an England-only basis. The package will draw on the £23 million fund already announced. The NFFO has made the case that if fishing businesses are to survive this extended period of depleted and disrupted markets, over a period then they still face significant fixed costs, then the Government must again step in. The Government has now responded to those concerns.
UK/EU Annual Negotiations: A trial of strength is under way masked by the language of cooperation
15 February 2021
Undermining Regulatory Autonomy: The first few plenary sessions of the negotiations for a UK/EU fisheries agreement for 2021 have provided a glimpse into the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The online talks are currently under way in the wake of the disastrous outcome to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded on Christmas Eve. The terms of that agreement cede automatic access for EU vessels to fish in UK waters (including the 6-12nm zone) for the next 51/2 years. The UK, however, retains regulatory autonomy over the rules which apply to all vessels fishing within the UK exclusive economic zone. A major battle now looms as the EU seeks to undermine and dilute that autonomy, whilst simultaneously paying lip service to it.
Sledgehammer to Fishing in MPAs
1 February 2021
In a shocking development, the Marine Management Organisation has announced that it intends to ban all forms of towed bottom gears in the Dogger Bank SAC and the majority of three other offshore MPAs. The knock-on effects of this brutal approach will not stay confined to MPAs as fishing activity is displaced from its customary areas. The decision has been taken with zero discussion with those affected.
New Era Opens
11 January 2021
Annual Fisheries Agreements for 2021: Trilateral and bilateral negotiations have now opened between the UK and adjacent coastal states including EU, Norway and Faeroes. The aim will be to agree (if possible) total allowable catches for shared stocks and other fisheries management measures for 2021. Talks are being held remotely because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In normal circumstances access arrangements to fish in each other’s waters and quota allocations of shared stocks are part and parcel of annual fisheries agreements between coastal states. The UK, however, enters its first annual negotiations with the EU with one hand tied (and will for the next five-and-a-half years) because of the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU reached on Christmas Eve. Despite this considerable constraint, the talks which begin in earnest this week nevertheless represent a significant watershed.
Short Straits Export Blockages
7 January 2021
Calais and Boulogne: despite the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU reached on Christmas eve, there is mounting concern over the export of fish to Europe, centering on obstacles in Calais and Boulogne. The first consignments of the year from Cornwall hit a brick wall of bureaucracy, and similar problems are being faced in relation to prawns exported from North Shields and with direct landings into Holland. At the time of writing one consignment of fish had been delayed 48 hours with attendant loss of quality. There were fears that the customer would reject the whole consignment on arrival. Buyers are warning vessels that purchases at first sale markets will soon be impacted if clear export routes across the narrow straits, compliant with the new customs regime cannot be quickly established.
“Miniscule, Marginal, Paltry, Pathetic”
26 December 2020
Some of the adjectives that will be in circulation within the UK fishing industry today, to describe the change in UK quota shares as the UK leaves the EU and the CFP, and the content of what was agreed in Brussels on Christmas eve sinks in. Some of the bell-weather stocks tell the story most vividly, After a further five years adjustment period, the UK’s share of Channel cod will have increased from 9.3% to 10.2%.
11 December 2020
A huge miscalculation lies at the heart of the EU’s negotiating strategy as we now head, apparently inexorably, into a future relationship unmediated by an overall framework agreement. The EU have made the assumption that because the EU is a regulatory superpower and because trading on WTO terms would be disadvantageous for the UK, the UK would back down on fish. This conviction has informed the EU’s negotiating mandate from the outset and its unwillingness to negotiate seriously throughout long weeks where talks have produced nothing tangible.