Two-thirds of Under-10m boats have registered for the CatchApp

The MMO says that two-thirds of Under-10m boats have registered for the CatchApp

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has confirmed that the CatchApp is here to stay as it announced that over two-thirds of under-10 metre fishing vessel owners have registered in the first 6 months of 2020.

Last week it was announced that that a proposed legal challenge by Plymouth Trawler Agents, and Felixstowe and Harwich Fishermen’s Association caused the MMO to withdraw any legal prosecutions against fishers who were deemed to have underestimated their catch and led them to suspend future prosecutions until the “testing phase” was completed.

In a report on 12 June from the Press Association the MMO said : “We know most fishers are operating in good faith and making efforts to comply with the catch recording guidance.

“We have clarified publicly that at this stage we are asking that fishers register for the system and submit returns, providing feedback to the MMO so that any necessary improvements and/or support can be provided.

“When we move to an enforcement phase we will notify industry in good time and our compliance and enforcement strategy sets our overall approach to this.”

One of the major issues the under-10m fleet had with the App was that catch declarations have to be within a 10% margin of error. Any errors outside that estimate could result in a boat being prosecuted and facing an unlimited fine.

This was deemed by the sector as being overly severe on fishers, as making the estimation is overly reliant on guesswork and being accurate within 10% on a moving boat under 10 metres at sea can be difficult at the best of times.

Today’s update from the MMO continues on from last week’s report but makes assurances to under-10 metre fishers that the CatchApp will remain despite calls for it to be scrapped. But at a cost of £2.4 million for its development and implementation.

The MMO was keen to point out the benefits of the App and said that it was introduced by the MMO to enable better management of fisheries and provide evidence of sustainable fisheries practice across the under-10-metre fishing fleet. The application works by capturing the volumes and species of fish being taken from English waters by under-10-metre fishing vessel owners.

In turn, they say that it will not only enable the MMO to have an accurate understanding of the total catch from English waters, but more importantly the claim it will help inform negotiations to agree future allocations of shared stocks.

The MMO says that in advance of its introduction, the catch app was developed and tested with the involvement and support of more than 100 fishers. 

To support implementation, the MMO has shared blog posts, provided ‘how to’ videos, staggered user registration and engaged fishers through one-to-one support sessions and a series of drop-in events across the coast. This support continues and the MMO, with colleagues based around the English coast, are available to assist fishers with the catch app.

To date, the MMO have recorded over 1,900 under-10 metre fishing vessel owners registering on the system, representing 77% of the fleet. Over 27,000 individual catch records have been recorded and submitted so far says the government  organisation.

Tom McCormack, MMO Chief Executive Officer, said:

“The number of catches being recorded on the catch app by fishers across the under-10-metre English fleet continues to rise, with the average number of catches recorded up to over 930 every week. I want to thank everyone using the catch app, including those giving feedback that is helping the MMO deliver app upgrades and improvements.

“Across the MMO, we continue our focus on engagement and support to the fishing industry with a range of support and assurance services.

“We will further build on our Covid-19 related engagement and support activity with the fishing industry to help shape further progress.

“The MMO has clarified publicly in updates published on 10 and 26 February 2020 that there would be time for those within our fishing industry to adjust to the introduction of the new catch recording application.

“In addition to continued one-to-one support from coastal offices, over 15 drop-in sessions were held around the country earlier this year to support our fishing industry with the continued roll out. Feedback provided has already led to several improvements on the app, including:

  • The addition of further ports
  • The addition of further fish species
  • The option to record volumes of fish caught in increments of less than 1kg
  • The option for vessels landing less than 10kg of species subject to quota or catch limits, as part of a landing of shellfish from pots only, to record the landing within 24 hours, rather than before landing.
  • Allowing an unlimited number of favourite species to be set.”

Phil Haslam, MMO Director of Operations, said:

“The requirement to register and submit landings records is a licence condition for all under-10-metre fishing vessel owners. Fishers need to register and use the application to achieve our collective goal of sustainable fishing opportunities for the future.

“We have been clear in previous updates that when we move to a phase of enforcement industry would be notified and this remains the case.

“Despite recent reports in the media, our stance has not changed since the introduction of the application, and we remain committed to continuing to listen to and support the fishing community in adapting to this new requirement, making changes to the system where necessary.

“Like many other public services, the catch recording application is currently in a state of public BETA. This means that the MMO is continuing to work with users to strengthen the service, in terms of its functionality and utility.”

Source: Marine Management Organisation 

Two-thirds of Under-10m fishing boats have registered for the CatchApp

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