ACCESSING MORE QUOTA FOR SMALL BOAT FISHERMEN Published: 11 November, 2013
A pilot project, which has provided 26 percent more quota to small boat fishermen as well as helping to reduce discards, has been branded an unprecedented success by members of the Ramsgate Quota Group who have called on DEFRA to extend the project wider in 2014.
he project, which was brokered by the National Federation of Fishermens Organisations (NFFO) and is being run by the Fish Producers Organisation, has already been successful in increasing the volume of quota available to small boat fishermen locally by 25 tonnes across a range of species. It aims to facilitate co-operation between vessels when negotiating swaps of quota of different species to provide fishermen with a more long term solution to the issues around accessing quota, while ensuring the industry remains environmentally and economically sustainable.
Fishing vessels are limited in the amounts of fish they can catch, with quotas set to regulate these limits. There is a delicate balancing act between fishing sustainably and maintaining a profitable industry. Until now, boats under ten meters would have to adhere to monthly quota limits set by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) or sometimes by leasing quota from other boats. This pilot project is helping small boat fishermen develop a more flexible way to access quota over the course of the year.
Of the project, Eddie Temple, who has been a fisherman for more than 25 years, said: Quota has always been a complicated issue which puts restrictions on when, where and what we fishermen can fish. Through this pilot project in Ramsgate we are able to be more in control of our businesses so we can decide when to go out and what we want to catch. This new flexibility has allowed us to operate more safely as we are not forced out in bad weather conditions and give us more independence in how we run our operations.
While this approach may not work for every small boat fisherman, we have found the pilot to be extremely beneficial and we are keen to see this approach rolled out further and continued into the new year.
The arrangement has been brokered by the NFFO, which represents fishermens groups, individual fishermen and producer organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has been working to find fairer deals for small boat fishermen across the country.
Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the NFFO, commented: The issue of availability of quota for small boats has been a highly emotive area of debate but through this scheme weve been able to demonstrate a practical and commercial solution delivered through the industry working together.
Having established the benefits of this approach, our aspiration is to extend the project to those parts of the under-10m fleet which periodically face problems with accessing quota. We would be interested to hear from any other under-10 groups who feel that they could benefit from this kind of approach and we are hopeful Defra will continue this co-operative approach to help fishermen from all sized boats to safeguard a more sustainable future for the industry.”