NFFO attacks Greenpeace interpretation of new CFP –

NFFO attacks Greenpeace interpretation of new CFP Published:  20 June, 2013

While the long-awaited agreement on EU fisheries policy is finally in sight and has been broadly welcomed news to all concerned, there appears to be confusion at Greenpeace, according to the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO).

Greenpeace has interpreted the reformed Common Fisheries Policy to result in a wholesale redistribution of quota from the offshore larger vessels, which are mostly in producer organisations, to the small-scale fleet of which only some are in POs.

“From what we have seen of the CFP text, it means nothing of the sort,” said Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO.

“Currently it is the member states’ prerogative how quota is distributed internally and it looks like that’s the way it’ll stay.

“Ministers already have the authority to redistribute quota and have used their powers from time to time by “top slicing” (extracting quota for redistribution before it is allocated on the usual basis) and “underpinning”, where additional quota is redirected to the under-10m fleet when quotas fall below a certain level,” said Mr Deas.

H added that Greenpeace had departed from “some important realities”.

“A four per cent share of the national quota, which it claims is the extent of the under-10s chunk, is a good hook for Greenpeace’s emotional propaganda; but as always with Greenpeace, the reality is a little different. Most species caught by the small scale fleet, like crab, lobster and bass, aren’t even under quota.

“We consider that Greenpeace is exploiting divisions and frustrations in the fishing industry for its own ends and, while it asserts itself as on the side of small fishermen, its ignorance of the industry and issues at hand will damage those it claims to represent.

The NFFO made following points:

The size of a fishing vessel is no guarantee that it is fishing sustainably. Large or small, it is what the vessel does that counts. Discards are a challenge for large and small vessels equally. Small vessels tend to have limited range. Inshore waters therefore come under greater fishing pressure than offshore areas. A mass transfer of quota from the “industrial” fleet to the small-scale fleet would mean two things: a lot of quota going uncaught, as it would be out of range, and an increase in fishing pressure in the vulnerable inshore zone as new vessels joined the fleet. It would be existing inshore fishermen who are the worst hit – a serious own goal. To a high degree, large and small vessels are interdependent. As we have seen with the port of Lowestoft, without a fleet of large vessels, port infrastructures are unsustainable and the small-scale fleet withers. The larger vessels provide the continuity in landings necessary to support marketing and ice facilities. Greenpeace considers that gill nets are indiscriminate, bottom trawling destructive and long lines have an impact on sharks and seabirds; this leaves the question: how are we going to catch fish to provide food security for our people?

“The inshore fleet does face challenges and some of those challenges relate to quota shortage. However, there is not, as Greenpeace asserts, a generalised quota shortage across the whole under-10m fleet, said Mr Deas.

“The shortages are felt most acutely amongst the larger under-10s in the South East and these are best addressed by groups of under-10m fishermen working collaboratively with their local producer organisation. Producer organisations have the direct day-to-day experience of sourcing quota as and when it is needed.

“Recently, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) successfully brokered an agreement between a number of producer organisations and under-10m fishermen in the South East and Thames Estuary, breaking the preceding deadlock. This was a demonstration that the industry has the capacity to work together and to generate solutions,” he added.