Pelagisk Forening has warned the Norwegian government and the Directorate of Fisheries not to turn fishers into criminals
The Norwegian Pelagic Association has made their thoughts known to the Directorate of Fisheries in regards to the consultation on catch samples.
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries had issued a proposal for regulations establishing the obligation to take catch samples on behalf of the Institute of Marine Research (HI). The scheme is to operate through the Catch Lottery.
In their letter, the Pelagic Association writes that they agree the best possible research method is a collaboration between scientific research and those working in the industry but the Association has taken issue with the idea of penalty points or any form of criminal action against those vessels that do not take samples or provide sample catches under a cumpulsory scheme.
Both Fiskebat and the Pelagic Association want the scheme to be voluntary but there is the recognition that if only a small number of fishing vessels volunteer for the project then the scheme could be made compulsory but they argue that turning fishers into criminals for not supplying a sample would be far too excessive as it is not a crime.
The following consultation response was sent by the Norwegian Pelagic Association in connection with the consultation obligation to take catch samples on behalf of HI:
“In general, the board of the Pelagic Association wants the best possible stock research, and believes that the research will be best with collaboration between researcher and fisherman. The Pelagic Association therefore supports the catch lottery “as such”.
The proposal, on the threat of punishment, is a clear violation of what the Institute of Marine Research has previously stated, and can have a negative effect on the relationship between researchers and fishermen.
The Pelagic Association is therefore strongly opposed to the introduction of penalties for failure to take catch samples.
In the draft new regulations, reference is made to the Marine Resources Act §§ 62 to 64. The Marine Resources Act § 64 has an upper penalty of six years’ imprisonment. The Pelagic Association doubts that a crime, on the duty to submit a prison sentence, will be punished with six years’ imprisonment immediately. The proposal may indicate that the proposer does not have a full overview of the consequences of the proposal. Pelagic association is against the threat of punishment.
The proposal, on criminal threats, is to get a larger response rate. As of today, not all catch diary programs are adapted for the catch sample lottery.
The Pelagic Association believes that before criminal threats are introduced, one should see what the response rate will be after all catch diary producers have prepared their diaries for the catch test lottery.
If a threat of punishment is nevertheless accepted, the Directorate of Fisheries should be particularly reluctant to report cases to the police.
If the penalty threat is nevertheless accepted, the Pelagic Association believes that it is positive that the penalty condition is “intentional”, and not the lower requirement “negligence”. This is because one then does not risk criminal cases where the reason for non-delivery is due to an accident. Unreasonable criminal cases could have a negative effect on the scheme.
The Pelagic Association also believes that the system must be designed so that fishermen do not risk receiving a fee or penalty if catch samples are lost at reception, or during transport from reception to the Institute of Marine Research.
Likewise, the reception must not risk being charged if catch samples are lost during shipping.
The Pelagic Association left a more detailed design to the Directorate of Fisheries and / or the Institute of Marine Research, but one way could be a receipt, for receipt of a catch sample, on the final seat. Another meeting may be a separate message in the catch diary.
Pelagisk Forening also believes that if it does not destroy the statistical value of the catch lottery, it is a precedent if it is sewn that certain boats are not pulled out to take samples disproportionately many times in one trip. This is especially important in fishing where the fishermen have to make many hauls / throws to load the boat. This is to avoid putting too much strain on a crew, and thus risk destroying the positive reception the catch lottery has received.”
Source: Norwegian Pelagic Association