The EU landings obligation comes fully into force on 1st January 2019 and will then apply to all quota species, unless a specific de minimis or high survival exemption applies. The full implementation of the landing obligation presents a number of challenges for the fishing industry, fisheries managers, and enforcement authorities, on a scale of magnitude not seen before. The problem of chokes in mixed fisheries, and the challenge of monitoring and controlling fishing activities in diverse fleets across a vast marine environment are at the top of the list of those challenges.
We believe we are entering a difficult period of adjustment in which a pathway to compliance is not yet clear. Moreover, important decisions still to be made at the December Council and beyond which will have a direct bearing on choke risks in specific fisheries.
There is a recognition that the year ahead could carry a number of serious risks to the economic wellbeing of the fleets and the integrity of the management regime.
Against this background, the NFFO met with the Marine Management Organisation and Defra in London on 4th December to discuss how to deal with this complex of issues in the coming year.
After extensive discussions in which various aspects of the implementation of the landing regime were discussed, it was agreed that:
1. The fishing industry and fisheries regulators should have a common objective in achieving a workable landing obligation and a high level of compliance
2. There is a need to prepare to deal with contingencies that may arise during 2019
3. Within a collaborative approach, a forum is required to bring together the insight and experience of vessel operators, producer organisations, the MMO and Defra, to deal with implementation issues as they arise. As well as responding to specific current issues, the forum could also provide a space in which new methods of monitoring and control, such as reference fleets and remote electronic monitoring, could be discussed.
4. The overarching principle guiding the group should be that achieving a workable landing obligation and high levels of compliance, is a joint endeavour, with shared responsibility on vessel operators, producer organisations, fisheries managers, enforcement, control authorities and Defra policy officials. All affected parts of the fleet would be invited to participate in the work of the group.
5. It will be important to send a public statement that the group has been formed and is focussed on developing solutions to outstanding problems
NFFO Statement of Intent 5th December 2018