The disconnect between DG MARE and the realities of fishing was evident the last meeting of the North Western Waters Advisory Council which was hearing questions on Article 27 of the Technical Measures regulation: catch composition, mesh sizes and the Landing Obligation. The question was asked by the fishing industry through Sean O’Donoghue, KFO CEO and vice-chair of the NWWAC, if a fishing vessel fishing nephrops and using the required mesh size, on the last haul of the trip catches nothing but whitefish and this upsets the catch composition, what should the skipper do because according to the Landing Obligation he is required to land everything he catches but at the same time he is breaking Article 27 by landing the catch. Article 27 of the Technical Measures regulation ((EU) 2019/1241) provides for maximum percentage of species allowed so as to qualify for the specific mesh sizes set out in Annexes V to VIII. However, the regulation makes it clear such percentages shall be without prejudice to the obligation to land catches as per Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013. Three representatives from DG MARE were unable/unwilling to provide an answer to the question put to them by attending fishing representatives who questioned what should fishers do if they find themselves falling foul of the Common Fisheries Policy through no fault of their own. The EU Commission believes that fishing vessels can move away from catching a mix variety of fish in their nets, to a stage where they are catching only the species they are targeting. Something that is impossible. Representatives from the fishing industry were left astounded by the lack of understanding by the three DG MARE personnel who seemed unable to grasp the situation despite having it explained to them several times by different representatives from Ireland and Spain, with the Chair of the meeting, Emiel Brouckaert intervening at one stage and asking if the DG MARE representation was understanding the question that was being asked of them. Sean O’Donoghue began by explaining the situation to them. He said: “What happens is we have a fisherman fishing nephrops in the north western waters in the Celtic Sea and he's using an 80-millimetre mesh and he's been authorised to do so. "He has to have a minimum of 20% catch of nephrops to be able to use that mesh size. “The catch composition rules will only apply when he lands. He has been fishing and his catch composition rules are perfect right up until his last tow, and suddenly, instead of having nephrops he has caught more cod, haddock or whiting in the net. “He can't discard any fish to meet the catch composition rules because of the last tow; instead of being over the 20% in his nephrops, he suddenly down at 18% of nephrops. So, now according to the Commission, he is not in conformity, which is true, of the technical conservation regulations, but he is in conformity with the with Article 15. “The question I have in that scenario is this; is the fishermen going to be prosecuted through no fault of his own? “It is the fault of the of the regulations, the way they are drafted is the problem here, and we really need to face up to reality here and come up with practical solutions.” The question went right over the heads of the DG MARE representatives. Evelien Ranshayen answered the question by replying that she could see the difficulty of implementing the Landing Obligation (LO) in mixed fisheries but by using current tools; technical measures, gear selectivity and spatial technical measures, it could be resolved. She also said that there is a slow uptake in gear selectivity by the stakeholder themselves. She continued, “During the negotiations of the technical measures Regulation, the Commission proposal was aimed to move away from the catch composition because these issues regarding control and enforcement are also not new.” “Intervening when there was no clear answer from DG MARE, Chair Emiel Brouckaert asked, “The question is not answered, I think. Now the situation can arise where you have an issue like so put forward. We cannot hear the actual solution to the question is, is there going to be a prosecution? “How can you address the fact that you're following what needs to be followed for one regulation and it cannot be compliant with another regulation as a consequence?” John Lynch from the Irish South & East Fish Producers Organisation again put the question to the DG MARE representatives who remained distant from the question. They promised the NWWAC that they would take the question with them and try to come back with an answer.

Danish fisheries Association welcomes the signals from the EU on Brexit compensation

The Danish Fisheries Association has welcomed EU signals that compensation to the fishing industry for Brexit does not contravene EU State Aid Rules.

Ever since it became clear on Christmas Eve that Brexit will be an expensive affair for the Danish fishermen, the Danish Fisheries Association (DFPO) has fought for the Danish fishermen to have full and fair compensation for the Brexit losses. Therefore, the DFPO looks with great interest at the latest message from the EU Commission, which states that it is still possible to give Danish fishermen compensation after Brexit.

“This is really good news. The Danish fishermen deserve compensation for the losses they have inadvertently suffered. This message from the EU Commission paves the way, and I am pleased with the great work we have done to ensure that the Danish fishermen receive compensation finally begin to bear fruit,” says chairman of the Danish Fisheries Association Svend-Erik Andersen.

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Big praise to Søren Gade

In the Danish Fisheries Association, it has been noted to that extent that Søren Gade (V), from his seat in the European Parliament, has fought the fishermen’s cause throughout the Brexit process, and has not at any time given up the fight despite the EU the system is heavy to deal with.

“Søren Gade has made a manly effort for the Danish fishermen in this case. We are, of course, grateful for that. The work Søren has done can end up making a big difference for a lot of people who are employed in the fishing industry. That is why the work is worth its weight in gold, and he deserves great praise for that,” says Svend-Erik Andersen.

Looking forward to clarification

The Danish Fisheries Association is now looking forward to the political negotiations that Minister of Fisheries Rasmus Prehn will convene after the autumn holidays. The reality is that it is still up to the Folketing to implement the so-called Brexit reserve.

The DFPO chairman is very optimistic about the forthcoming negotiations.

“I would like to acknowledge that Rasmus Prehn has quickly grabbed the ball and indicated that the negotiations on the Brexit reserve are just around the corner. I would also like to acknowledge that the Minister has stated on several occasions that his wish is for fishermen to be compensated for the quotas lost. There has generally been broad political agreement that fisheries should be helped through Brexit. That is why I think there is reason for optimism.”

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