Thursday 3 March 2022

Help small-scale English Fishermen by ScrapTheApp.

English small-scale fishermen with vessels under 10m are mounting a legal challenge against the Government and need help to fund the case. 

The ScrapTheAPP group and Plymouth Fishermen Brian Tapper have today (March 1st 2022) commenced the first step of a judicial review legal challenge against the Marine Management Organisation to stop them from enforcing new regulations that could see English fishermen, prosecuted, given an unlimited fine, and a criminal record for something it is impossible to comply with consistently.

A pre-action protocol letter has been sent by leading Fisheries Lawyer Andrew Oliver, partner at Andrew Jackson, Hull. Alan Maclean QC of Blackstone Chambers, has also been instructed.

Imagine having to guess/estimate within 10% the weight of these fish?
Get it wrong and you could be subject to an unlimited fine!

Draconian or what?

The new rule via a fishing license condition requires fishermen to estimate within a margin of tolerance of 10% the weight of their catches when they land. Accurate fisheries data, of their catches, is already submitted to the MMO via the Buyers and Sellers Act which requires auction houses and fish merchants taking catches to provide this information after weighing the fish and within 48 hours.

It is impossible to consistently estimate and guess the weight of catches, accurately. Governments' own data demonstrate that c.40% of estimated landing data for larger boats is outside the 10% margin of tolerance, and when it is wrong, it can be out by as much as 116%.

Despite being notified by fishermen, some landing stages and ports are still missing and fishermen are being advised to use a different port on the drop-down menu, which is a technical offence, now punishable via a prosecution with an unlimited fine. It is lamentable after a 2-year pause, this still has not been resolved.

The small-scale fleet is mostly owner/operators, micro-businesses with little or no savings and financial resilience. For 2 years these small boats have been trying to get the MMO and DEFRA Secretary of State Rt. Hon George Eustace, and Fisheries Minister Rt. Hon. Victoria Prentis, to listen to concerns.

But now, the MMO has decided to make the rule enforceable from 28th February 2022 which could leave many fishermen being prosecuted, for a rule, they cannot comply with. Most small-scale fishermen could not afford legal representation to defend against a prosecution, despite there being a strong defence of it not being in the public interest to prosecute someone for an offence they cannot avoid.

EU boats, licensed by the UK Government to fish in UK waters do not have to carry and use the CatchAPP, nor do Scottish, Welsh, and NI vessels. The new rules discriminate against the English coastal communities and around 2,200 small English fishing boats under 10 metres in length.

Taking legal action is sadly the only route now open to challenge the discrimination and irrationality of enforcing a regulation, that fishermen cannot comply with.

Thank you.