Small British fishing boats to ask for priority access

By Liz Turner 
 
A new Manifesto for Fair Fisheries, published August 8, puts forward proposals to protect the livelihoods of local fishing communities in Britain.
 
The document was produced by NUFTA, the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, which represents operators of boats under 10 metres long, with support from Greenpeace. It advocates ‘priority access’ for small so-called ‘inshore’ boats to catch fish such as cod, hake and monkfish, and allocating the quota in a way ‘which rewards sustainable fishing methods and protects coastal communities’.
 
Although small boats account for 77% of the UK’s fishing fleet, and 65% of full-time employment in the industry, current European quotas allow them only 4% of the nation’s fishing quota.
 
Until 2006 these small boats were effectively left to fish as they saw fit, but a stricter regime arrived with the introduction of a European register of buyers and sellers.
 
Co-chair of NUFTA, Paul Joy, told The Guardian newspaper. "What we're allowed to catch doesn't even pay for the fuel to go out there and catch it."
 
The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is under review following controversy about the discarding dead fish caught above a boat’s quota, and high-profile campaigns by Friends of the Earth, the WWF and the cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
 
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says that proposed reforms would help small operators, because they should allow member states to take over management of their own quota. Governments could then choose to prioritise smaller boats.
 
NUFTA representatives have been touring English ports speaking to members. So far their meetings have revealed a high level of confusion and concern about both the current system and these latest proposals. Other worries on members’ minds included the effects of climate change and offshore wind farms.
 
 
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