NFFO hears south east concerns at packed meeting –

NFFO hears south east concerns at packed meeting Published:  19 February, 2013

A packed meeting of fishermen from Rye, Sussex and Dungeness met on Friday February 15 2013 with the NFFO chief executive Barrie Deas and chairman of the Federation’s South East Committee, Tony Delahunty, to address how best to tackle the issues facing small-scale fishermen in the area.

The harbour office in Rye was the venue to discuss a wide range of concern. Top of the list was fear that the impending discard ban would do more harm than good if it was mishandled.

It was stressed that a high proportion of the fish currently returned to the sea by the Sussex and Kent fleets -such as small plaice and dabs had a high survival rate.

Taking them ashore for landfill or fishmeal would be the opposite of good conservation practice. Equally, concern was expressed that superficial media representations of complex fishing issues, often driven by the more fanatical NGOs, was harming the reputation of the industry and potentially cornering politicians into ill-considered measures.

The rush to introduce poorly thought-through marine conservation zones and European marine sites was top of the list of fears in this regard, including worries about fishing vessels displaced by other MPAs and wind-farms. The federation was able to explain in detail its work on these issues.

Concern was expressed over fears that stocks such as bass not currently under quota could be restricted and the federation could assure them that a detailed NFFO case had already been submitted to DEFRA opposing any move on this direction.

Ways of improving the quota position in the Southeast fleet were discussed and there seemed to be a ready willingness to work with the producer organisations at local level to secure additional tonnages throughout the fishing year.

The federation offered to set up the necessary meetings. Some of the fishermen from the eastern end of the area are in the under10m quota pilot scheme and spoke approvingly of the advantages of maximising the benefits of their quota throughout the year through swaps and transfers.

Chairman Tony Delahunty, NFFO, said: “We were able to explain how important it is to ensure that local views in the SE are heard within the NFFO, in London, in Brussels and in the increasingly important regional advisory councils. This is not about a few shouty individuals; it is about ensuring that the views of the grass-roots industry, whose primary concern has to be to keep their boats viable day in and day out and get heard where and when it matters. That is what the NFFO is for and it is important that we develop ways in which those voices can be heard.

“This was a very positive meeting and I am sure that we are going to be able to build on it”, he added.