FISHERMEN have called for the politics of devolution to be removed from fishing to stop management decisions being ‘compromised’.
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), which is the representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has said the fishing industry cannot thrive until ‘fisheries management is depoliticised’.
In a statement before the new transition agreement, the NFFO said: ‘From devolution to the landing obligation, to repatriated powers under Brexit, fishing is being used as a political football and it is to the industry’s detriment.
‘The principle of devolving responsibility to the lowest practical level, within a system of supervision, is absolutely sound.
‘That’s what we have with producer organisations and it works very well. But when devolved responsibility is distorted by a political agenda it becomes toxic and gets in the way of sensible, pragmatic decision making.’
It pointed out that Australia had found a way to largely take the politics out of fisheries management decisions and said the UK should do the same.
Devolution, the NFFO claims, has increased the complexity of fisheries management in the UK tenfold. But it was a political construct, imposed from outside and not asked for by fishermen.
‘More devolution in fisheries is not going to improve things – it is going to make matters worse,’ it states
The NFFO said devolution is getting in the way of normal straightforward business transactions, such as buying a boat, or moving quota to where it is needed.
‘It is also being used as a lever to secure advantage for one party in allocations and policy decisions.
‘The concordat was supposed to bring clarity to the way fisheries administrations work together but it is doing the opposite.
‘It is being mainly being used in a power struggle to obtain political advantage that has nothing to do with fishing.
‘Fishermen north and south of the border are the losers from this, as wholly artificial barriers are being applied.
‘The mess that is the EU landings obligation is another example of rules that resulted from nothing more than political opportunism.
‘Commonsense, pragmatism and the principles of sound fisheries management were completely absent when that decision was taken.’