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Take the politics out of fishing, says NFFO

Published by FiskerForum, 07-03-2018 · info@fiskerforum.dk

The NFFO has highlighted the problem of the distorting effect that devolution is having on UK fisheries management, claiming that the issue is having a distorting effect with fisheries management decisions being compromised by politics. The NFFO states that the fishing industry cannot thrive until fisheries management is depoliticised.

‘From devolution to the landing obligation, to repatriated powers under Brexit, fishing is being used as a political football and it is to the industry’s detriment,’ an NFFO spokesman stated.

‘The principle of devolving responsibility to the lowest practical level, within a system of supervision, is absolutely sound. That’s what we have with producer organisations and it works very well. But when devolved responsibility is distorted by a political agenda it becomes toxic and gets in the way of sensible, pragmatic decision-making.’

According to the NFFO, the Australian example of having largely taken politics out of its fishing sector is one that the UK would do well to follow.

‘Devolution has increased the complexity of fisheries management in the UK tenfold but devolution and the fisheries concordat is a political construct that is getting in the way of sound fisheries management. It was not asked for by the fishermen in any of the four countries of the UK. It was imposed from outside for entirely political reasons and is artificially distorting fisheries management in the UK. More devolution in fisheries is not going to improve things – it is going to make matters worse,’ the NFFO’s spokesman said, commenting that devolution is getting in the way of straightforward business transactions such as buying a boat, or moving quota to where it is needed.

‘It is being used as lever to secure advantage for one party in allocations and policy decisions. The concordat was supposed to bring clarity to the way fisheries administrations work together but it is doing the opposite. It is being mainly being used in a power struggle to obtain political advantage that has nothing to do with fishing. Fishermen north and south of the border are the losers from this, as wholly artificial barriers are being applied.’

‘The mess that is the EU landings obligation is another example of rules that resulted from nothing more than political opportunism. Common sense, pragmatism and the principles of sound fisheries management were completely absent when that decision was taken.’

According to the NFFO, the industry itself has been from this debate.

‘The people whose activities and livelihoods are affected by all of this are being treated like pawns. Their voice should be at the centre, not relegated to the side-lines when their fate is decided. No-one is saying that we don’t need regulation in fishing. But when the design and application of fisheries rules plays second fiddle to political wars of attrition, it is the industry that suffers. We need to reassert the primacy of the principles of fisheries management before more unnecessary harm is done.’

The NFFO states that a clear framework at UK level is required to replace the CFP framework that will no longer have legal force as EU law in the UK after March next year, after which the devolution settlement as far as fisheries are concerned needs to be revisited.

‘Subsequently we need to revisit the devolution settlement so far as fisheries is concerned,’ he commented. ‘The current arrangement is not functioning.’

Source: NFFO

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