Scotland: Regulating Order dispute hears of integration proposal – Fishupdate.com

Scotland: Regulating Order dispute hears of integration proposal Published:  22 June, 2006

THE proposers of the largest Regulating Order area in Britain have tried to meet objections from fishermen by suggesting to a public inquiry in Inverness, that the Order should be integrated with the provisions of the Scottish Executive’s inshore fisheries legislation. The public inquiry has already taken evidence in Ullapool and will take more evidence in Fort William tomorrow as well as Inverness. The Regulating Order would allow a private company, the Highland Shellfish Management Organisation, to control and manage shellfish stocks to the six-mile limit from Nairn to Lochaber. The species include oysters, mussels, cockles, clams, lobsters, squat lobsters, queen scallops, crabs, whelks, razorfish, and crawfish.

The HSMO told the inquiry that the inshore fisheries groups being set up by the Scottish Executive could be enhanced by the Regulating Order. The Executive has proposed 12 inshore fisheries groups, with five of the IFGs proposed for the Highland area coast. Roddy McColl from HSMO told the inquiry: “The Regulating Order could be the mechanism for an IFG or a group of IFGs to ensure sustainable management of the fishery. The Order would not be an alternative to the new framework, but it can be integrated with it.”

David Dorran from HSMO added: “The IFG proposal addresses a number of failings in the previous system, but the Regulating Order measures are still relevant, because it gives the IFGs a full suite of management tools. We are proposing changing the articles of association of the HSMO and integrating the Regulating Order into the IFGs, so that the Order can become a tool for the IFGs to use as they wish. An IFG can’t apply for a regulating Order, because they would have to establish a company to do so.”

Inquiry Reporter Ron Jackson said that HSMO had provided details of their new proposals only one day before the inquiry started. “It is difficult to be told of a fundamental shift in the position just a day before the inquiry starts and I can see how objectors are discomfited by that. IFGs could set up a not-for-profit company and apply for a regulating Order,” he said.

Duncan MacInnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association said: “We would be totally opposed to integrating IFGs and the proposed Regulating Order. That would be a half-baked way of progressing IFGs. We need to discuss this further to ensure this permits new entrants and that the industry makes progress.”

John Hermse, secretary of the Scallop Association, said: “We do not subscribe to this idea. We are not against Regulating Orders per se, but we oppose this particular Order because of its sheer enormity. The HSMO has never proved that it is a necessity especially with the IFGs proposed by the Executive coming to fruition.”

Duncan MacInnes said: “We see the IFGs as the way forward, and it is up to them to decide if they want Regulating Orders or not. HSMO’s proposals are not sensible. The IFGs have been proposed on the basis of scientific evidence on seabed conditions and the shellfish species caught in these areas. It makes far more sense to have five different groups around the Highland area, rather than one large group as suggested by HSMO. It would also restrict the fishery to Western Isles fishermen and have serious repercussions for the industry. The number of boats fishing lobster, crab and scallop are already capped and there are regulations to control the industry. We see the need perhaps for smaller Regulating Orders for unregulated fisheries such as cockles and razorfish, but not Orders on this scale.”

Peter Davidson chairman of HSMO, said: “The objectors are naïve if they think they don’t need Regulating Orders to carry out some of their aims. I don’t think we can have a fully sustainable fishery without the Orders. A lot of the fishermen we have spoken to are not represented by the existing organisations. We would include them, and members of the other associations in the HSMO provisions.”

John Hermse said that they were given too little information about HSMO. “They can’t give us numbers for people attending the first tranche of meetings on the Order proposals. In the next round of meetings, after the draft order was published, I recorded attendances myself and there was a substantial level of opposition to the provisions of the Order. We have had to fight to get information about the plans, and we didn’t have enough time to make submissions. We have had problems finding out how much public money HSMO have been given and we haven’t been given the minutes of HSMO meetings. The danger of this Order is that a private company will be left policing a public resource and there are only two serving fishermen on the current HSMO board. They will be unaccountable to the public and the fishermen they are meant to serve,” he said.

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