The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has written to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, requesting that additional quota secured from the European Union fleet should be first and foremost used to address cases where acute quota shortages threaten the viability of fishing vessels.
In their letter to the Secretary of State entitle ‘Allocation of Additional Quota’, the NFFO claim that in some parts of the fishing industry, “we have already seen the emergence of sharp elbows and insularity about how to allocate the modest increases in additional quota secured by the UK under the UK/Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”
They warned the Secretary of State that the additional quota secured by the UK is not evenly distributed across stocks, fisheries or regions. And in certain cases, “Some have experienced windfalls, whilst other face crisis because access to additional quota through international swaps is to be replaced by a much more cumbersome system of international exchanges at state-to-state level, with no guarantee about how whether that mechanism will deliver.”
The NFFO letter has called on Mr Eustice to ignore the devolved governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales when making a decision on divvying-out the newly won quota.They say, “We consider that the Secretary of State should resist pressures from devolved administrations and sectional interests and make a determination based on need not greed.
“Additional quota should go, first and foremost, for use as currency in international exchanges to secure quota for where there is an acute shortage. An obvious case is where those quota shortages will lead to chokes in mixed fisheries in 2021. The guiding principle should be that no group or vessel should be worse of as a result of the Brexit debacle.
“Any Brexit bonus for the lucky few should be a secondary consideration.”
The NFFO has been a strong supporter of the FQA system, when it was not fashionable to be so. FQAs brought stability, a means of matching available quota to capacity, and a sense of stewardship during a time of chaos. We stand by those views.
Additional quota is different and should be treated according to the principles of equity, mutuality and fairness, not electoral or sectional pressures, or suchlike considerations.
If the NFFO is about anything, it is about mutuality: in common parlance looking out for each other and strength in unity. The Secretary of State should follow the same precepts in making a determination on additional quota.