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Monday, 10 November 2014

When is forewarned not forewarned? - when it's the MMO it seems!

In July Plymouth MP @AlisonSeabeck held a meeting with fishermen in Plymouth who were voicing their concerns over the way in which the MMO was not only managing  certain fisheries but also over the means by which fishermen were informed of changes on the MMO website:



THE needs of fishermen and the conservation of our seas should go hand-in-hand, says a Plymouth MP. Alison Seabeck, MP for Moor View, met with local inshore fishermen on Friday at Lockyers Quay in Sutton Harbour.

The fishermen raised concerns with her over smaller catch quotas, competition on the seas, the growth in protected marine areas in the South West and their trouble with using the Marine Management Organisation’s website, who monitor the industry.

She has called on those regulating the industry to engage directly with those trawling the seas rather than rely on internet communication systems.

“There are no simple answers to issues these small-scale fishers face in running their businesses within this highly regulated industry,” said Ms Seabeck.

“However, there does seem to be a lot more that could be done to draw on the experiences of these experts. It is essential that regional knowledge is drawn upon and consideration is given to what the fishermen are seeing.

“Fishermen do not work nine-to-five jobs, nor do they tend to be IT experts and regulators need to realise who their stakeholders are and how to engage with this fragmented industry.

“Numerous computer based consultations and calls for evidence are not always going to be the best way to hear from these fishermen. “It is only by getting out and listening to these individual stories that you can a get a full picture of what is happening now, and what is likely to happen,” she added.

Ms Seabeck is appealing to constituents who fish for a living to get in contact to raise their concerns.

Full story from the Plymouth Herald here: 

From Hansard back in March 2014:


T9. [904197] Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): My hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) highlighted the importance of science-based policy making. Will the Minister tell the House how often the Marine Management Organisation’s scientific group has met since it was set up in 2010?
George Eustice: I am afraid that I do not have that information to hand, but I will get in touch with the hon. Lady and give her that information.


Further questions on Fish Stocks in June 2014:


Fish Stocks

8. Mr David Amess (Southend West) (Con): What recent estimate he has made of levels of UK fish stocks. [904175]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea assesses the state of EU fish stocks annually. The next round of advice for the majority of European fish stocks, including those in UK waters, will be released on 30 June, and will inform decisions on 2015 fishing quotas that will be made at the 2014 December EU Fisheries Council.
Mr Amess: Given that fishing is such an important part of Southend’s economy, it is very disappointing that stocks of sole, plaice, cod and herring have been depleted as a result of channel deepening via suction dredging. Will my hon. Friend please look into that, and ensure that the Thames estuary is pollution-free and full of fish again?
George Eustice: This issue was raised with me during a recent conference of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, and my hon. Friend has written to me about it as well. The chief fisheries science adviser at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science has subsequently overseen an initial investigation of the issue, and has prepared a detailed report that acknowledges that there has been a decline 
12 Jun 2014 : Column 681
in stocks recently. The cause of the decline is not clear, but some have pointed the finger at the London Gateway development. Other possible causes include the discharge of surface water that may contain contaminants. Another meeting is planned for July, when next steps will be decided on.
Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): Given that it is clearly in everyone’s interests for the UK fishing industry to modernise and, in so doing, to use good data to protect and grow fish stocks, why has the Minister allowed the Marine Management Organisation to relax its commitment to use a European Union grant that was specifically designed to support the sector for that purpose?
George Eustice: I do not accept that. The lion’s share of the European maritime and fisheries fund will be invested in selective net gear and used to support work relating to the discard ban.
Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): Responsible drift netting plays an important role in the management of UK fish stocks, and has been a traditional part of fishing off the East Anglian coast for centuries. Can the Minister confirm that the Government will ensure that the European Commissioner’s proposed blanket ban on drift netting, which will destroy what is left of the Lowestoft fleet, is not introduced?

George Eustice: We are aware of the issue, and we think that the targeting of species such as herring, bass and salmon by UK drift net fisheries is a far cry from the type of drift netting with which the previous ban sought to deal in the Mediterranean. We will be negotiating for the application of a risk-based regional approach to ensure that the right fisheries are monitored and required to take the appropriate litigation action when that is necessary, without the imposition of a blanket ban on drift netting.



Lord Carter of Coles, Chairman of the EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, has written an article on the latest CFP reform proposals.
Also in a wide-ranging letter to the EU’s Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Committee Chairman, Lord Roper, called for the EU to introduce a proper economic framework to support reducing discards. The successful Project 50% in South West England showed that fishermen are the ones best placed to decide how to avoid discards. The EU should get the right incentives in place to encourage them to do so.
The Committee also called on the EU to introduce a range of practical measures. The CFP needs:
  • Member States and fishermen themselves to take the technical decisions to put the CFP into practice, rather than this happening behind closed doors late at night in Brussels.
  •  consistent planning at regional, national and EU level to meet Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015, which is the maximum level of fishing that can take place without harming the long term levels of fish stocks.
  • to make the introduction of Transferable Fishing Concessions mandatory so that even the smallest vessels have access to the scheme. The ultimate aim of bringing the EU fleet’s capacity into line with fishing opportunities would be undermined if TFCs were only available to large vessels.
  • consistent methodology for collecting data on EU fish stocks so that data are reliable.
  • compulsory national action plans to encourage aquaculture, given its increasing importance as a source of food when the world’s population has just reached 7 billion.
  • an EU labelling system which gives consumers the information they need to make informed choices about which fish products to buy.
  • to recognise the Community Fisheries Control Agency’s control and enforcement role properly.
The Committee also wants those countries receiving EU funds which support their sustainable fishing agreements to respect human rights and to account for how they spend all the money, not just the proportion directed to improving governance as is currently the case.
On 19 December 2011, Commissioner Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries sent a reply to the letter from Lord Roper, Chairman to the House of Lords EU Select Committee.

From Hansard December 2013 - speaker Mr Doran.

"There is good news on the fisheries science partnership. For years, it has been obvious that there is a big gulf between the fishermen and the scientists who present the evidence to the European Commission that determines the likely outcome for TACs each year. The fact that there is a serious partnership that is supported by Government and by various EU institutions, and that projects are arising from that, is certainly very good news.
I will finish on that point. I simply say to the Minister that this is an important debate for those of us who still have a fishing industry in our communities and it is an important debate for the country. There are many issues in which we might want some involvement during the year, but this is the main debate in which we have an opportunity to focus on the industry. Members of the all-party parliamentary fisheries group had very good relations with his predecessor and were sorry to see him go. If the Minister can keep up to his standards, we will all be grateful."

Hansard records every conversation during the open sessions of Parliament and provides an excellent search service on their website: