David Levy – Meeting with Defra, 27th March 2017 – Apr 17

Marinet wrote to George Eustice, Minister in charge of Fisheries, the day after the Brexit vote.

We had put together a series of proposals suitable for the improvement of the management of British fisheries once we again control our own stocks. Being Marinet, it was forward thinking and adventurous in spirit.

Our thinking was designed to place fish food security as central to how we move forward once we have left the European Common Fisheries Policy. Our thinking also focused on the quota issue and its allocation.

The team from Defra admitted it was only after the Brexit vote that they had started planning for it, but they feel they will quickly get on top of the brief. Unfortunately they were unable to reassure us either about direction and or the ways they are planning to deliver change.

They pointed to a review date of 2018 when the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) will be assessed for its 100% maximum sustainable yield fishing target by 2020.

They did not respond well to the evidence of current fishing catch quotas exceeding scientific advice, and which indicates that they will breach the MSFD’s 2020 legal MSY target. We gave reasons for our understanding, and they smiled and gave reassurances that they are on target.

By 2020 they themselves will have moved on like their predecessors, and none of them are accountable.

The key note point from this meeting is that Defra will not challenge property rights which, over the last 40 years, have given quota to certain companies who register their boats as British.

This means that current thinking in Defra will not move existing quota to the under 10 metre boat fleet, although when quota does become available the onus is currently towards giving this small boat fleet the availability.

Where the Defra team did become animated was in its thinking about getting quota back off the French/Spanish/Dutch and others, and how they will distribute this.

Once again, do not get your hopes up. The reality is that this Defra team will not be involved in the specific Brexit bargaining, and all their plans could be as nought.

As a result we were no further forward in our understanding, but they were confronted by an NGO who still challenges them.

Action Points:

  • Marinet will contact the representatives of the under 10 metre fleet and see what plans they have post Brexit.
  • How they will distribute any extra quota that comes their way?
  • How they will organise their port’s fleet to stay within their own stretch of sea?
  • Whether they have considered joint MP action to lobby politicians to pressure Defra for additional quota?
  • What plans do they have for a 5%, 10% or 20% increase in quota?

 
It is Marinet’s assertion that Defra has breached legal targets for MSFD, and other targets. We will put together a paper which we will forward to Defra for specific comment.

 


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