The ScrapTheApp Group have been forced to file for a hearing in the High Court following the MMO has response to the pre-action protocol
Following on from article ‘English small-scale fishermen forced to launch legal action against MMO’, the Marine Management has responded to the pre-action protocol letters sent on behalf of ScrapTheApp Group and named Plymouth fishermen Brian Tapper.
Leading fisheries lawyer Andrew Oliver, partner at Andrew Jackson Solicitors, Hull, said:
“It is regrettable that the MMO did not accept our client’s reasonable request to pause the enforcement of CatchApp for a further 90 days to deal with the issues raised in our pre-action letters. This would have given senior officials at the MMO time to meet with fishermen and fully understand the issues around the margin of tolerance, and the missing ports and species.
“While the MMO have made some minor improvements to the CatchApp in the past two-years, the fundamental irrationality of setting a margin of tolerance at 10% that the Government knows cannot consistently and accurately be adhered to, remains. Missing ports and species, add to the inappropriate decision to take the CatchApp to the enforcement stage.
“Although a disappointing response from the MMO we were prepared for this and will now finalise our application to seek Judicial Review, and witness statements to file in the High Court in London, next week. We are fortunate to have been able to instruct leading silk Alan Mclean QC from Blackstone Chambers, London, to act for us”.
Former MMO officer and Director at South Devon and Channel shellfishermen association Beshlie Pool said
“The weight of pressure and stress felt by the under 10m fleet because of the potential to be prosecuted, is heavy to bear for our fishermen. It does nothing for the already strained relationship between small-scale fishers and the MMO that they simply want to carry on, with the enforcement of CatchApp, regardless.
“This stress and its mental health implications will now be compounded by the MMO leaving fishermen no choice but to file in the High Court and a lengthy and perhaps expensive court case just to stop, what everyone knows, is unworkable home-grown red tape.
“But this is an industry that knows how to weather storms, how to support and look after each other once fishermen put their minds to something they will not be cowed. Ironically the MMO position and approach to this intervention may have done more to bring different sectors of the under 10 metre fleet together in solidarity in a way I have not seen before”. Pool said.
The crowd funding page has raised over £3k from 35 supporters so far in just 48 hours. From associations to individuals, not only those affected but fishermen from Scotland, Wales and those with bigger boats not affected. At the bottom of the article is a link to support the ScraptheApp Group and below are some of the comments on the JustGiving page so far:
“Wish you every success before it’s forced on us here in Scotland. We have the MCA acting like deranged enforcement robots and we certainly don’t need any more pointless bureaucracy, on an overburdened, pressured sector of low impact fishing vessels!”.
“They won’t be happy till they’ve sent us all to the wall”.
“I am too old, and after a long trip 24 hours without sleep it’s as much as i can do to land the fish, this is not needed, and puts us all under more pressure”.
“All small-scale fishers should back this, because if we don’t make a stand now! This will not go away in this format and penalties will follow and get ever more severe, for essentially just doing our jobs! What a bloody disgrace,that we have to fight like this for our very survival but fight we must and a legal challenge is now the only way to make them listen? Remember how the Post Office treated their sub postmaster”
“Good luck. British fishing is being persecuted by our Government”.
“A sad state-of-affairs, that a body who talk about “co-management” ignore the very valid concerns of those they seek to work with”.