The explosive Unearthed report by Greenpeace exposes the UK government system of allocating EU fishing quota has become dominated by a few big players. The Fixed Quota Allocation (FQA) system of allocating fishing entitlement allowed bigger companies to consolidate an industry struggling under the CFP to a few hands
Fishing for Leave have been quick to corroborate Greenpeace findings saying that the ailing CFP conjoined with the British allocation system created a scramble to survive where those with the deepest pockets could buy out smaller struggling family operations. The group highlighted that no one can be blamed for doing their best in a dysfunctional system lumped on the industry.
However, the group poured fury on those they say malevolently want to keep the current failed system for the few rather than see a fresh start and fair distribution to all fishermen and coastal communities
FFL said “The CFP of quotas has shamefully created mass discarding – it has failed. British allocations have driven consolidation destroying communities. We have 700,000 tons of fish worth £3-4bn the UK can repatriate on withdrawal from the EU yet the SFF and NFFO want business as usual for a few – it’s disgusting!”
“We have mainly bit our lip against exposing the corporate quota racket in the Scottish Fishermens Federation (SFF) and National Federation of Fishermens Organsistations (NFFO) for the sake of the wider cause of the industry and way of life we are fighting for”.
“They continually misrepresent ‘speaking for all the industry’. However, the straw to break the camels back is knowledge of the NFFO and SFF discussing staying mute on a transition deal (one that would prove disastrous for the majority of Britain’s fishing) and to sell the industry a pup in exchange for maintaining the current system beneficial to a few”.
“The NFFO and SFF have become a cartel and corporate racket dominated by a few big quota holders and heavily influenced by EU owned but UK registered “flagships” dominating the industry to the detriment of the many they claim legitimacy from”.
This was vindicated by the Greenpeace Unearthed report;
FFL urged caution against one element of the Greenpeace report. Saying; “Not all big are bad, small are good. Some of the biggest companies such as Interfish and Northern Ireland Fish PO back both Brexit and a fair distribution for all – sadly many of their contemporaries who are in the SFF and NFFOs policy is all for one none for all”.
This continues, what FFL say is “twenty years of servility and supine retreat by the NFFO and SFF in exchange for seeing a few alright. Rather than fight to replace the system that has ruined British fishing they continually pursued managed decline to a few. The consequence for so many fishermen and communities is heartbreakingly apparent to see”.
“When the chance to escape the CFP came they wouldn’t back Brexit. They abandoned the industry they now purport to represent. It was left to the grassroots to initiate and fight under Fishing for Leave”.
“The two federations then did a volte face to control the Brexit dividend for a few and fend off what they saw as a threat by FFL banging the drum to replace a failed system (one with feathered nests for a few) with new British policy that would work for all from big to small.”
FFL lambasted and said it was environmentally criminal and callous for the NFFO and SFF to wanting to keep a quota and FQA allocation system FFL say has trashed the environment with mass discards.
FFL said “Not only has the Quota system trashed the environment but it has created a prohibitive cost of renting and purchasing the right to go to sea which has crippled community and family fishing and culled the ability of a next generation to realise boyhood dreams.
“It is sickening they lobby and are in cahoots with government to keep the same failed system reviled by so many fishermen for vested interest and political convenience”.
“There is a long gap between actual fishermen and the two federations who purport to represent them”.
The choice is distribute repatriated fish fairly. Ban slipper skippers and flagships and scrap quotas after trialling a potentially world leading, sustainable, discard free time at sea system that would work and give a future for ALL
…OR try to preserve a corporate racket of quotas, discards & slipper skippers for the benefit of a few?
One thing is certain, coastal constituencies will decide on MPs choice of what is listened to… Will MPs and government listen to a bright future for all or keeping trotters in the trough for a few…?
Big questions thee NFFO and SFF need to answer:
1) Why will they not support equal shares of repatriated resources to ALL fishers and communities rather than through the current disastrous FQA system which has driven consolidation to a few, crushed family fishing and communities?
2) Species such as herring and mackerel, currently caught by 25 specialist ships, is the main dividend. Why won’t they support half fairly going to these ships and half to all others rather than continually peddle the lie publicly and in parliament that smaller trawlers cannot pursue these species as they happily manage in Norway and Ireland to support rural communities…?
3) The discard ban addresses the discard symptom rather than the quota cause.
‘Choke species’, when vessels have to tie up on exhausting their lowest quota to avoid discarding from 2019 on will cripple all bar a few of the biggest quota holders.
Why did the SFF, after talks in Downing Street, roll over so easily to a transition where the EU will be free to enforce the 2019 discard ban, bankrupt all bar the biggest quota holders, and then claim the resources we would no longer have the fleet to catch using UNCLOS Article 62.2?
4) Why do the SFF and NFFO resolutely want to allocate all repatriated resources through the FQA share system that drives consolidation to few big corporates and the unsolvable discarding due to quotas that will ruin the majority and leave only a few big players?
All whilst resisting trials of more sustainable, discard free world leading time at sea systems.
Is the resistance to not continuing the same failed system less to do with environmental and operational concerns and more to do with preserving a quota trough for some prominent members who have their trotters firmly in it?
5 ) How can the NFFO say it speaks for British fishermen given that the government FQA register and Companies house show that the majority, around 75%!, of the NFFO membership and their FQAs is controlled by EU owned but UK registered ‘Flagships’?
6) How can the SFF purport to speak for Scotland’s fishermen when many fishermen are not in the SFF; the founding Clyde Fishermen’s Association quit due to problems above; and many are hugely disgruntled at the corporate racket but persist to obtain necessity of guard work jobs?
7) Why will the SFF and NFFO not condemn quota renting ‘slipper skippers’, who government agency SeaFish statistics show are bleeding 50-60% of the profit for reinvestment from the industry as active vessels have to pay to fish? Why won’t they back FFL to ban slipper skippers and that entitlement to fish should only be on active vessels?