Thursday, 18 July 2019

CFPO quarterly news update.

Welcome to the July edition of the CFPO's quarterly digital newsletter.

We’re more than six months into 2019 and what a challenging and busy first half of the year it has been!

British politics continues to be dominated by Brexit and to top it off we’re now searching for a new Prime Minister. Uncertainty and unpredictability remain the order of the day in Westminster.

Obviously, the UK’s route out of the EU and therefore the CFP remains unresolved but let us see what a new Prime Minister and the latest deadline of 31 October can deliver. As a result of the Brexit uncertainty, the passage of the new UK Fisheries Bill progress through Parliament into law has, in effect, stalled.

The CFPO has redoubled its efforts to ensure your priorities, concerns and views on Brexit and the UK Fisheries Bill continue to be heard and understood by Ministers, MPs across the political spectrum and officials.

We’re also more than six months into the first year of full implementation of the EU’s Landing Obligation.

In my opinion, even before the implementation of the EU’s Landing Obligation, most if not all CFPO member vessels were already working on improved selectivity and fishing practices in various ways (including partnerships with CEFAS, DEFRA and MMO) and I am pleased to see these efforts are continuing across the breadth of our membership.

Targeting small, unwanted, or unmarketable fish has never been, and never will be, the practice of CFPO members. It is ironic that in our area many of the discards appear to be regulatory driven, for example, bass or spur dogs, which are not covered by the EU’s Landing Obligation.

The EU’s Landing Obligation will continue to present some significant challenges in the ultra-mixed fisheries we have here in the Southwest, particularly given the constraints of our current quota allocations under the CFP’s relative stability share principle. As we make our way further through the year these challenges (and others we haven’t seen coming yet!) are likely to intensify.

These facts seem to have been lost on NGOs and others who prefer to repeat inaccurate soundbites that only serve to mislead the public and display their ignorance. Frustrating as their views are to hear, their dogmatic opinions and the way that they have been expressed, is beginning to marginalise the NGOs from where the real decisions are made.

The ICES stock assessment advice was released on 28 June. This advice will form the basis for 2020 quota proposals and discussions have already begun with CEFAS and DEFRA around our areas of concern and emerging priorities for members. There are some generally positive trends on important stocks like sole, plaice, megrim, monk and haddock in area 7, although there is more challenging advice on cod and whiting.

Mixed fisheries considerations, balancing MSY, landing obligation aspirations and social and economic implications will all have to be factored in before final agreement later in the year.

The rest of 2019 will undoubtedly be challenging and uncertainty looks to continue in the short term at least. However, hopefully, some clarity on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the future direction of fisheries management in the UK will emerge.

The CFPO is your organisation and will continue to be guided by you. Any concerns, questions or even if you just want a chat, my door is always open.

Paul Trebilcock