How Scotland's Sea Fisheries Industry Can Be:
The key challenge is to ensure that stocks at risk recover, to manage the stocks better to try and avoid "boom and bust" and to safeguard the quality and diversity of the marine environment whilst also ensuring the continued viability of the industry and the local communities it supports.
The outcome we hope to achieve is that Scotland's key fishing stocks are fished at sustainable levels. This means not only good stock management but also responsible fishing that does not jeopardise either the future of the industry or other priorities for the marine environment.
Our approach is guided by the management principles which underpin the Common Fisheries Policy. The most important of these principles are:
- The precautionary approach, which involves the application of prudent foresight taking account of the uncertainties in fisheries systems and the need to take action with incomplete knowledge. It leads us to manage fisheries in a way that conserves the reproductive capacity of marine resources, initiates corrective measures without delay, even if our knowledge is incomplete, and limits exploitation where productivity is uncertain; and
- The ecosystem approach, which seeks to protect diverse objectives by taking into account both the knowledge and the uncertainties of interacting biological, chemical, physical and human components in the marine environment.
This will lead us to:
- Adopt stock management strategies that aim to achieve more stable stocks, where necessary banking some of the potential catch in order to build up stock sizes for long term stability, taking the viability requirements of our fleet and our fishing communities into account;
- Encourage responsible fishing that helps to safeguard the marine environment; and
- Maintain, innovate and enhance fisheries science in Scotland and work for improvements in international fisheries science, in particular by involving the industry in data collection, setting priorities and translating science into management.
Success will mean:
- More stocks within safe biological limits;
- Progress towards sustainability of individual stocks;
- Improved understanding and acceptance of scientific information in the industry and more science/industry collaborative projects; and
- Positive trends in wider marine environment indicators being developed under other initiatives.
SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES FOR THE LONG TERM...
We believe that good fisheries management is based on utilising fish stocks sustainably so they can support a profitable industry into the long term. This means limiting the rate at which the stocks are exploited so they can replenish themselves and grow. There is a balance to be struck between what is necessary to conserve the stock and what is necessary for the fleet to be profitable. That balance is achieved in our stock management strategies. Our challenge is how we develop and adopt appropriate strategies together with the industry, scientists, other stakeholders and our international partners with an interest in the fishery, taking account of:
- Uncertainties over our knowledge of fish populations and the rate at which fish are removed from the sea because of uncertainty about the true level of catches as a result of both illegal landings and discarding at sea;
- The challenge of mixed fisheries where weaker stocks co-exist with healthier ones;
- The need to avoid displacement of fishing effort from one stock to another in a way which may jeopardise the stocks;
- Natural fluctuations in the replenishment of fish stocks through the annual 'recruitment' of young fish which can be extremely variable, resulting in bumper and lean years; and
- Balancing all of this with the need for long term stability of supply to the market and hence economic certainty for the industry.
One option is to fish to the maximum level which is biologically achievable without collapsing the stock. This is the approach which has existed by default in the past. In theory it should allow the stocks to replenish themselves and continue to be harvested, but it is risky. It leaves the industry vulnerable to natural variations in the stock and therefore disruptive management (for example, large variations in TACs and/or other annual changes to the management regime) as fisheries managers try to track the fortunes of the stock. It does not sufficiently allow for the inherent scientific uncertainties in stock assessments and assumes perfect management. However, it can provide the maximum fishing opportunities in the short-term.
Another option is to exert less fishing pressure on the stock, fishing at more moderate levels. This approach is already being adopted for some stocks in the EU. Over time, this gives the stock a better chance of being able to grow as well as to replenish and therefore a higher chance of a larger and more stable stock with both environmental and economic advantages. This should enable more predictable management arrangements with less variations from year to year. Over the long-term and across a fishery as a whole, this strategy aims to strike the most advantageous balance between the amount of fish caught and the effort expended to catch them and, in economic terms, it represents the most economically efficient way to use a fishery. There can be some complications with this approach, particularly in how it can be applied to the large mixed fisheries of the EU. It may mean less fishing opportunities in the short-term where stocks are already over-exploited but it offers the potential for greater stability and less risk for the industry in the long term.
We intend to pursue the latter approach. In practice, this means banking some of the potential catch in the short term in order to permit the growth of our commercial fish stocks to a size that includes more mature adult fish than is strictly necessary to avoid stock collapse, and then to maintain the stocks at this higher level by restraining the proportion of fish extracted from them.
…THROUGH STOCK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
The manner and the rate at which this approach is adopted is crucial to its success and would need to be varied from stock to stock, taking into account the characteristics of the particular sectors of the fleet pursuing those stocks. Moving too quickly to moderate fishing pressure in a stock that is currently being fished hard would create too much short term instability for the fleet and for onshore businesses, infrastructure and communities. A further factor would be the need to negotiate these individual stock strategies with our international partners - will only work if it is accepted and applied by all the partners at the international negotiating table. And it will only work if fisheries managers develop and adopt these strategies in discussion with the sea fisheries industry and scientists.
There is a need for:
- An approach to stock management which aims to achieve more stable stocks, taking into account the viability requirements of our sea fisheries industry and our fishing communities;
- Phased implementation with different strategies applied to different stocks at different times according to their natural dynamics and taking account of the interactions between them; and
- A shared approach between scientists, fishermen and fisheries managers across all the countries with an interest in these fisheries.
We will agree with stakeholders and particularly the industry what this would mean in practice. We will ask the Advisory Group to over-see the process which we believe should be based on the following guidelines:
- For healthy stocks currently harvested at moderate fishing pressure, like haddock and coley, we should aim to maintain the fishing effort at these levels to ensure the continuance of long term stability in the fishery;
- For healthy stocks currently harvested above this level, like herring and scall0ps, we should aim to restrain catches to permit future growth of the stock;
- For stocks that are currently healthy but at risk of over-exploitation, like mackerel, we should aim to restrain, and when necessary reduce, the current level of fishing pressure;
- We should limit the fishing pressure exerted on economically important stocks with scientific uncertainty over their current state, like monkfish, Nephrops and whiting; and
- For depleted, recovery stocks, like cod, we should aim to help our fishing industry with strict limitation of fishing pressure on the stocks by seeking alternative opportunities and by seeking to negotiate an equitable and effective basis for effort reductions.
We will then need to negotiate our precise approach in each case with our international partners with whom we share the management of the fisheries. In that context, we will support management regimes that promote industry stability such as the application of multi-annual management with harvest control rules, TAC variation constraints and effort-based management, particularly in mixed fisheries. It will be important that there are fair shares amongst all interests in the fisheries and we will negotiate an equitable basis for any restrictions and restraints that are necessary.
STOCK MANAGEMENT IN ACTION…
Special measures were introduced in 2003 within the cod recovery zone pictured here in order to reduce cod fishing effort by 65% compared to 2001, with immediate effect. This supplemented the quota restrictions and technical conservation measures that were already in place. A long term Cod Recovery Plan was introduced in 2004, covering the same area with the aim of ensuring increases in the stock sizes to safe levels within 5 to 10 years.
In Scotland we have also contributed to cod recovery through decommissioning in 2001 and 2003. The map shows the total number of vessels that have been taken out of the fleet and where they were based. We estimate that fishing effort by Scottish vessels in the Cod Recovery zone had exceeded the 65% reduction target by the end of 2004.
The size of the symbols is indicative of the number of decommissioning vessels, with examples shown in map insert.
This graph shows the changes in fishing effort in recent years. Most of the effort reduction has been in 4a type fishing gears which are the main gears used to target cod.
COD RECOVERY IN A MIXED FISHERY
Cod in the North Sea and off the West of Scotland is classified as suffering reduced reproductive capacity and is being fished unsustainably. The scientific advice on cod in 2000 and 2001 recommended reducing fishing mortality to the lowest possible level and, in 2002, closure of the fishery. In view of the serious socio-economic impacts closure would have had on Member States' fishing fleets and communities, Ministers agreed instead substantially reduced fishing for cod and associated stocks in these areas as illustrated, setting an immediate target for reduction in effort on cod and following it up with a long term plan in 2004. These measures involve, essentially:
- Limits on the number of days per month a vessel can spend at sea in the Cod Recovery Zone which covers most of the seas around Scotland;
- Flat rate allocations of days to vessels, although the transfer of days between vessels is permitted subject to certain limits and safeguards, thereby allowing fishermen some flexibility to trade effort to deal with their different needs and circumstances.
In Scotland, we have supplemented these effort controls with vessel decommissioning. This significant removal of vessel capacity has helped to ensure that the amount of fishing effort (days at sea) available to the remaining whitefish boats has permitted generally much more viable levels of fishing activity.
We have essentially achieved the 65% target for reduction in fishing effort, and the UK is one of a few Member States to have demonstrably done so. This achievement has had significant costs, both in terms of the restrictions on cod, a valuable catch, and in terms of adverse side-effects on Scottish fishermen, because cod is caught in a mixed fishery and constraints on species caught in association with cod, particularly haddock, one of Scotland's most important commercial species, have been inevitable.
We are committed to the recovery of the cod stocks. Scotland has made a substantial contribution to this aim. Going forward, there is a need for continued and indeed greater flexibility in effort management arrangements to permit, and encourage, fishermen to prosecute other sustainable fishing opportunities.
In future negotiations on cod we will support the safeguards necessary to recover threatened stocks and create the conditions for the long-term sustainability of the fisheries on which our fishermen and communities depend. In doing so we will seek to ensure that fishermen have the maximum possible time at sea and remain able to transfer effort between vessels to take account of different needs and circumstances, to help ensure economic viability. We will continue to explore mechanisms to achieve cod recovery that are effective, implementable and equitable between Member States taking account of the extent to which existing commitments have been delivered.
SAFEGUARDING THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT…
We are committed to conserving and enhancing our marine environment and we apply area based closures and restrictions where this helps us meet this aim.
Map showing principal offshore fishing restrictions in the Scottish Fishing Zone.
Technical measures improve the environmental performance of fishing gears. In recent years, the Scottish industry have made changes to their nets to help more young fish escape from nephrops and whitefish trawls. This means more young fish grow to spawn and replenish the stock and by-catch and discards of young fish are reduced. These measures tend to be more effective at protecting young haddock than cod because cod are larger but the age at first capture for both species is increased in all these cases.
…BY ENCOURAGING RESPONSIBLE FISHING
Good stock management strategies for ensuring healthy fish stocks help to ensure a healthy marine environment in which fish can thrive. Their spawning areas, nursery and feeding grounds must be safeguarded. Fishing activities can, sometimes, impair the quality of the environment on which the stocks depend to the detriment of stock sustainability. The fish stocks are part of the marine ecosystem and fishing activities can impair the quality of the ecosystem generally and impact on particularly sensitive marine species and habitats in particular through by-catch and disturbance to the sea bed. Fisheries management therefore has two distinct types of contribution to make to the health, diversity and productivity of the marine environment:
- To create the conditions for fish stocks to thrive, of which an important part is ensuring that stocks are harvested sustainably; and
- To safeguard the marine environment generally including protecting marine habitats and biodiversity from the impacts of fishing activity.
These aims are closely inter-related. The single biggest contribution we can make to the quality of the marine environment is to implement sound scientifically based stock management strategies as we aim to do. Complementary ways in which fishing impacts on the health of fish populations and the wider marine are through technical measures to improve and control the environmental performance of fishing gear and fishing practices and area based closures and restrictions.
Any one of these measures can fulfil both of our policy aims. For example, the closure of the Darwin mounds that we instigated in 2002 is primarily designed to protect a vulnerable habitat but may also benefit some stocks in terms of protecting nursery and spawning grounds. We cannot take a blanket approach and the exact type of measure taken will depend on what we are trying to achieve in any given case. The ecosystem based approach and environmental impact assessment techniques offer a framework for assessing what measures are needed.
There is a need for:
- Responsible fishing that does not jeopardise either the long term future of the fishing industry or other priorities for and uses of the marine environment such as recreation and nature conservation;
- A proportionate approach that allows the sustainable exploitation of the marine environment so as to support the continued viability of the fishing industry; and
- A flexible approach that selects the right measure from the list of possible approaches.
We need to discuss how to put this into practice with the Advisory Group. As with stock strategies, it has to be given effect through international negotiations. We will also need to take account of the approaches emerging from our marine strategy. In the meantime we will:
- Work with our international partners to build on the CFP's existing technical conservation regulations, seeking to make them more simple, relevant and effective;
- Support the development of new ways of improving the environmental performance of fishing activities through research by FRS, Seafish and funding from FIFG and, in the future, the EFF;
- Support the development of Seafish's vessel accreditation scheme that includes measures of environmental performance; and
- Resource research on the effectiveness of area based closures and restrictions and on applying the ecosystem based approach in fisheries management.
IMPROVING UNDERSTANDING AND DECISION MAKING…
SEERAD's scientific agency, Fisheries Research Services ( FRS), aims to ensure that SEERAD's policies and regulatory activities are supported by full and up-to-date scientific knowledge. As well as conducting research, monitoring and surveillance, FRS staff provide scientific advice and information to a wide range of customers, represent the Scottish Executive at national and international meetings and communicate scientific issues and information to all stakeholders. FRS makes a valuable contribution to the international fisheries management process through ICES.
FRS's expertise goes beyond fisheries management. They provide science advice on a wide range of marine and freshwater environment issues to SEERAD, the Food Standards Agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( DEFRA), the European Commission, and the fishing and fish farming industries. In 2004, FRS's total running costs were £17m.
The main areas of sea fisheries work at FRS are:
- Monitoring the state of fish populations through sampling the ages and lengths of landed fish from fish markets and on board observation of catches;
- Fisheries management research, including examining the relationship between fishing activity and fishing mortality rates and investigating the importance of inshore nursery grounds for populations of commercial fish species;
- Research on how fish gears operate and how fish are caught by them;
- Biological and ecosystem modelling in the marine environment; and
- Research into multi-species interactions in fisheries and fish population ecology.
A number of initiatives have been put in place to incorporate fishermen's knowledge into the scientific assessments of fish stocks. Perhaps the most important of these is the North Sea Commission Fisheries Partnership's ( NSCFP's) annual fishers' survey which has been in operation since 2002 and collects information on the state of the catch direct from fishermen. ICES evaluated the survey in 2004 and concluded that it gives broadly similar information about stock trends as the other scientific assessments and it is now being developed and improved.
FRS scientists regularly meet with fishermen's representatives and other sectors of the industry to discuss stock assessments and management recommendations, particularly at key points in the annual cycle of scientific advice. There is also collaboration between FRS and the industry on a range of projects including:
- An on-board observer programme to monitor fish discards;
- Use of a commercial vessel in the annual acoustic survey of West of Scotland herring;
- Improving gear selectivity in the North Sea to protect cod ( EU recovery programme); and
- Use of tally books and GPS loggers to gather data on fishing effort from commercial fishing trips, initially in the Clyde and North Sea Nephrops fisheries to look at links between cod and nephrops, now extended to mixed demersal and pelagic vessels in the North Sea.
FRS is currently building partnerships with a number of the Scottish universities with expertise in marine science and management. The long term aim is to create a "virtual fisheries science institute" in Scotland which would pool expertise, bring the institutions closer together and involve the industry in deciding what research should be conducted.
…BY MAINTAINING, INNOVATING AND ENHANCING FISHERIES SCIENCE
The fisheries scientists in FRS are among the best in the world and we have a wealth of fisheries expertise in our universities and other institutes around Scotland. The success of our stock management strategies depends on their knowledge and advice about the state of the stocks. That in turn depends on cutting edge research and development to improve our state of knowledge, on high quality applied science directed at specific management problems and robust monitoring data and advice on the state of the stocks. There can be tension in the relationship between fishermen and fisheries scientists because that scientific advice, when turned into management decisions, determines fishing opportunities. Yet co-operation between scientists and the industry is important because scientists need to work on the boats and in the fish markets to collect data and because fishermen's knowledge and expertise can enhance the science. We should aim towards a consensus of views between the industry, scientists and managers about the state of the stocks for management to be successful.
Collaboration and co-operation between fisheries scientists and fishermen in Scotland has improved in recent years, helped by the establishment of the NSCFP. In particular, their annual fisher's survey provides a basis for building a good long term partnership between the scientific community and the industry.
FRS's role in ICES is important and it is one of SEERAD's main contributions to the international fisheries management system. We recognise the quality and independence of ICES science and will continue to support it in its crucial role of providing the objective underpinning for fisheries management decisions. There is, however, scope for modernisation of its processes, so that it can deliver advice that is more responsive to the needs of managers and sensitive to the challenges faced by stakeholders and that reflects better current needs such as the move to fisheries-based advice within an ecosystems approach. It is important that we engage with ICES to support change so that its advice is more transparent and more open to stakeholder participation.
There is a need:
- To consolidate FRS's world class scientific status and maintain the long term monitoring programmes that are the foundation of fisheries management;
- To engage with ICES to modernise its advisory process;
- For innovation so that we can continuously improve our state of knowledge about the stocks and what influences yields, particularly in poorly-understood fisheries (such as monkfish and nephrops currently) and so we can tackle complex management issues such as applying the ecosystem approach and managing mixed fisheries;
- For cross disciplinary working so that biological and socio-economic expertise are brought together in fisheries management advice;
- For development of the partnerships between fisheries scientists and fishermen at the operational and strategic levels and, in particular, for greater stakeholder involvement in the process of turning scientific advice into management decisions.
We will discuss with the Advisory Group how to put these and other means of enhancing our science into practice. We believe this should involve a programme of collaborative science between the industry and fisheries scientists in Scotland. We also need to create more opportunities for stakeholders to advise SEERAD on its priorities for fisheries science and the use of fisheries scientific advice within the department.
How Scotland's Sea Fisheries Industry Can Be:
The key challenge is for the industry to maximise the return available from finite fishing opportunities; this is key to competitiveness in the global market place. It will mean that both the catching and processing sectors will need to work in a more integrated way with shortened supply chains.
The outcome we are aiming for is a seafood industry in Scotland that is competitive, profitable and delivers a safe, quality product.
Our approach is guided by our overall approach to economic development set out in the Framework for Economic Development in Scotland.
This will lead us to:
- Work for improved business efficiency and market focus with both improved quality and marketing of Scotland's seafood products throughout the supply chain from net to plate;
- Pursue joint action with Seafish, Seafood Scotland, the Enterprise Networks and Local Authorities to support sea fisheries businesses to be successful; and
- Take account of the needs of fishing communities and support their economic development.
Success will mean
- Improved economic returns for fishermen and processors;
- Improvement in global competitiveness with a higher quality, more value added product commanding higher prices in target markets;
- More export success and more success in developing premium UK markets for Scotland's seafood industry; and
- Continued contribution from the sea fishing industry to the economies of remote and fragile communities in Scotland.
COMPETITIVENESS FROM NET TO PLATE…
Scotland needs a catching sector committed to sustainable and responsible fishing, harvesting the resource and nurturing the marine environment on which its future prosperity depends. Like any other industry, these sectors have an important part to play in building a sustainable economy in Scotland. Like any other industry they also need a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Both sectors are highly regulated, which though necessary in food safety and conservation terms, imposes additional costs, notably in terms of access to fishing opportunities. They face other cost pressure, such as fuel for the catching sector and the cost of waste disposal in the processing sector. Both need to adopt strategies to increase the amount of profit realised from the catch across the supply chain. Both must find the means to work together and with others throughout the supply chain to obtain the best possible return from every fish landed.
In meeting these challenges the industry has significant advantages on which to build, in particular, a reputation for high quality and healthy food and drink products and a positive image based on the clean and beautiful waters around our coast.
The industry can only realise these market opportunities by being prepared to be properly market focussed. Many have already risen to this challenge. The industry needs to make this more widespread and continue to embrace the techniques and technologies which maintain product quality at sea and on land. It is crucially important to catch
for the market, starting with the co-ordination of fishing activity with market demand, understanding customer needs and preferences and organising effectively to deliver these at the most competitive price, optimal quality and the expected time. Many Scottish seafood businesses are doing this already. But there is still ground to cover to ensure that market signals are read clearly throughout the supply chain from net to plate in all cases.
There are opportunities to play to our strengths by increasing market penetration in existing markets and to develop new niche opportunities based on supplying high value products to discerning customers based on traceability, product quality and brand identity. New opportunities can be created by increasing the attractiveness of stocks that currently suffer from poor market opportunities e.g. coley and whiting.
The supply chain in Scotland is often extended and dislocated with many key players distanced from consumers and this must change so that the supply chain is more integrated.
Underpinning all of this is the need to drive down costs while enhancing capacity and capability through employee recruitment, training and development. As in any other sector, if Scottish sea fisheries businesses are to be successful they must improve their efficiency.
…BY IMPROVING MARKET FOCUS
There is a need for:
- Improved quality - to maintain and enhance quality with investment in traceability and the techniques and technologies which maintain product quality at sea and on land.
- Improved marketingthrough development of new and better ways of sharing intelligence on markets, more traceability in recording schemes , including shore based and 'point of catch', and accreditation within the industry to allow businesses to emphasise a particular unique selling point.
- Improved supply chain coherence where all seafood businesses understand their place in the supply chain and the importance of the final customer. Improvements would include more emphasis on catching for specific markets, the co-ordination of fishing activity with market demand, direct contractual relationships and, for the auction sector, greater use of advanced landing data.
- Improved efficiencywhere the cost base of the business and how it benchmarks against the best performers is well understood with action taken to address weaknesses, for example optimising waste and the cost of waste disposal along the supply chain by collaborative working.
We will work with the Advisory Group to build on existing initiatives in these areas:
- Work with Seafish and Seafood Scotland to maintain the emphasis on quality at sea and on land through improved handling and storage, in particular through the training of young fishermen and skippers;
- Work with Seafish and Seafood Scotland to build brand identity for chosen niche markets where the investment involved is most likely to pay dividends for example by building markets around Product Geographical Indicators;
- Work with representatives of health bodies to improve knowledge of and preference for seafood in consumers, particularly young people;
- Work through Seafish and Seafood Scotland to help businesses understand their place in the supply chain to improve links between catchers and processors and to encourage better co-ordination of fishing activity with market demand; and
- Work with Seafish and the Enterprise Networks on cost reduction in the industry, for example on fish waste processing and R&D on fuel consumption and in examining the potential of primary processing at sea.
…SUPPORTING SCOTTISH SEA FISHING BUSINESSES
We recognise that delivering a competitive sea fisheries industry, from net to plate, will be challenging. Sea fishing businesses face problems in attracting and retaining people to work on boats and, particularly, in processing factories. Furthermore, this strategy will mean changes in the business and regulatory environment and an increased emphasis on training and skills. As in other sectors there may be gains to be had for some businesses from embracing innovation and e-business. The expertise and entrepreneurialism of those who work in the sector means it is well placed to rise to this challenge, develop its excellence and to be proactive in delivering the best future for itself.
Support will be available from the Executive and its partners. Together this must add up to a package that delivers the best conditions for the industry, ensuring that entrepreneurial fishermen and fish processors realise their potential. The sea fisheries industry has not benefited fully from mainstream economic development work, nor the skills and labour market system. Although the industry does have some very particular needs, many of the challenges it faces are also faced by other sectors. It will be important for it to be able to access the same advantages as any other sector. This points to the need for a partnership approach between the various agents of support for the industry so that, collectively, they target its needs and promote existing programmes to them in an effective way.
The agents of support referred to here are not only Seafish and the Enterprise Networks, although they are the major players, but also the Sector Skills Council, Improve, local authorities in their economic development role and other bodies working in the field, e.g. those promoting energy efficiency.
There is a need for:
- Complementary approachesfrom the Executive and its partners to supporting sea fishing businesses to be successful, oriented to the aims and approaches in this strategy with no duplication of effort so that Scotland's sea fishing industry can be a strong sector, developing its own expertise, experience and networks and innovation culture; and
- Investment in employees skillswhich can aid innovation, recruitment and retention so creating an industry that can attract and retain employees from elsewhere in the UK and beyond.
This is a broad agenda and we will work with the Advisory Group to determine the detailed actions that will be needed to realise it.
It may be necessary to create a forum to facilitate partnership between Seafish and the Enterprise Networks, Improve and other bodies working to support sea fishing businesses and co-ordination with the funding available from FIFG (and the new European Fisheries Fund). Since 2000 the FIFG funding for Processing & Marketing has been delivered through Project Assessment Committees which involves Seafish, the Enterprise Network and local Authorities. Consequently, there is a good foundation on which to further build and develop this partnership approach. It will be important that training needs are met in the sector in a way that strikes the right balance between ensuring the necessary skills are available and encouraging diversification. We will also undertake new initiatives to improve the supply of labour for fish processing factories.
SUPPORTING SCOTLAND'S SEA FISHING COMMUNITIES…
The sea fishing industry does not exist in isolation. It consists of individual businesses, of men and women who play a central role in local communities all around the coast of Scotland. Those communities are diverse, offering a range of opportunities and with a range of needs. In some, the importance of fishing is such that the key challenge will be to retain a critical mass of activity to sustain related businesses and jobs; in others, the challenges will be similar to those facing rural communities the length and breadth of the country. The future of these communities is important to Scotland. They remind us of our long and proud sea-faring tradition. Not only are they the source of high quality food, they also provide recreation and tourism opportunities for the wider population of Scotland and beyond. And importantly, these communities need to remain vibrant, diverse and sustainable in the long term if those involved in the sector are to see the growing prosperity and opportunities which other Scots are increasingly enjoying.
Delivering a vibrant diverse and sustainable sea fishing industry is part of the answer but it will also pose challenges to our sea fishing communities as well as to sea fishing businesses because there are some hard choices to be made. As well as supporting our fishing communities to continue with the business of sea fishing we must also support them to strengthen their own development capacity and to diversify. This will mean enhancing the abilities of individuals, groups, organisations and companies to identify and tackle development challenges in a sustainable manner.
Networks can help communities achieve this. For example, the North Sea Woman's Network has been created because women from around the North Sea recognised that they could better influence policy makers and express their views on the way fisheries were managed within fishing communities by linking together in order to improve conditions within fishing communities and seek better training and education. It aims to create a positive image for fishing and to have a major influence on future fisheries policy in particular through acting as a focus for women's views within the new North Sea Regional Advisory Council.
Our support for sea fishing communities will need to be developed within the wider context of regional and rural development policy. Support will be available from the Enterprise Networks, Local Authorities and the European Fisheries Fund.
…A THRIVING INDUSTRY; THRIVING COMMUNITIES
The Executive is committed to maintaining strong, prosperous and growing communities in rural Scotland. This means working for:
- A strong and diverse rural economy where traditional strengths are harnessed and where there is an appetite for change;
- A rural Scotland where everyone can enjoy a decent quality of life, where young people do not have to leave their communities in order to get on and the vulnerable are no longer excluded;
- A rural Scotland where people enjoy public services that are accessible, of the highest possible quality and with the greatest possible choice; and
- A rural Scotland whose natural and cultural heritage flourishes in all its diversity.
These commitments apply as much to sea fishing communities as to other remote and rural communities. They share many of the same challenges. The challenges facing the communities to which our fishermen belong, will not be solved by this strategy in isolation. Other actions currently in hand - such as the provision of infrastructure, whether transport or communications, housing etc. - will be of greater significance. Nevertheless, for those communities where the dependence on the fishing industry is high, if we can set the conditions for a sustainable, profitable and well managed industry we will have gone a long way to ensuring the sustainability and viability of the communities themselves.
There is a need:
- To ensure that in taking forward the actions under the strategy we seek to maximise the benefit for local communities.
- To ensure that proper account is taken of the needs of those communities which are shown to be particularly dependent on fisheries.
For our part, we will:
- Complete a study on fisheries dependency;
- Look at the issue of community quota as part of the quota management review;
- Ensure that there are appropriate opportunities for the voice of fishermen to be heard as part of the Community Planning process in neighbourhoods where this is identified as a local priority; and
- Work through the Enterprise Networks, Seafish and Improve to encourage diversification within the economies of fishing dependent communities, whilst recognising the need to retain the required infrastructure people and dependent skills for the industry to remain viable.
How Scotland's Sea Fisheries Industry Can Be:
The key challenge is to over-come the shortcomings in governance in the fisheries management system and address the economic circumstances that create the pressures for non-compliance.
The outcome we hope to achieve is that Scotland's sea fisheries are regulated effectively with the full involvement of the Industry.
Our approach is to:
- Give fishermen a bigger stake in the decision making process and an influential voice at all levels of management.
- Ensure improving levels of compliance by enhancing fisheries enforcement to make it equitable, effective, robust, fair and targeted.
This will lead us to:
- Rebuild good governance, ensuring an influential voice for the industry and other stakeholders at all levels of management;
- Adopt effective management measures through better regulation so that our stock management strategies properly take into account economic requirements; and
- Build a 'compliance culture' backed by an improved enforcement pre and post landing.
Success will mean:
- Improved satisfaction with fisheries science and the governance and regulatory framework in Scotland and the EU; and
- Improved compliance with quota and other fisheries management controls.
If it is to be sustainable and profitable, our sea fisheries industry also needs to be well managed - by the industry and by government in Scotland, the UK and Europe. Yet the management challenges within the sector are significant and the governance of the industry is complicated and takes place on the international stage. Scotland's fisheries need to be well-managed in a multi-jurisdictional context, in a mixed fisheries context and in economic, governance, regulatory and enforcement terms if we are to build the culture of compliance that is necessary for the industry's future and necessary to achieve our other goals for the marine environment and for fishing communities.
Achieving this requires change and we believe there are 4 main areas which need to be addressed to be successful:
- The economic circumstances must be such that there is much reduced pressure for catchers and processors to evade controls;
- Those affected by compliance requirements must feel satisfied their voice has been listened to and that the rules are being applied fairly to all;
- We need to rebuild respect for and belief in the management framework in scientific, regulatory and control terms; and
- We want to further improve enforcement so that those fishing legitimately can be assured that any breaking the rules are identified and dealt with effectively.
Significant improvements in the arrangements for stakeholder involvement in fisheries management issues are already taking place at Scottish, UK and EU level.
At European level, following on from the most recent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy the European authorities have committed themselves to establishing and working with a series of Regional Advisory Councils ( RACs). RACs are stakeholder led bodies comprising fishing industry and environmental experts with other interested stakeholders from all countries with an interest in the region. The first meeting of the North Sea RAC was held in Edinburgh on 4 November 2004. Two further RACs of interest to Scotland's sea fisheries industry, the Pelagic and the North Western Waters RACs will be established during 2005.
In the run up to annual negotiations the European Commission has adopted new arrangements designed to ensure that regulatory proposals are considered at some length in advance of final negotiations. At the UK and Scottish level a new emphasis has been placed recently on better stakeholder engagement including detailed dialogue in the run up to significant points in the fisheries year and joint industry/fisheries administration working groups covering issues such as the response to the "Net Benefits" report, a review of the domestic quota management arrangements in the UK and the implementation of the registration of buyers and sellers of first sale fish.
…AN INFLUENTIAL VOICE FOR THE INDUSTRY AND OTHERS
Fisheries regulations and management measures are detailed and complex, because they seek to address a wide range of issues. Increasing complexity does not lead to clarity or effectiveness. The shortcomings in the management of fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy are recognised, particularly the inability of the system to respond to the different needs of specific regions and fisheries. It is also recognised that complex, burdensome rules and regulations contribute to non-compliance because they reduce respect for the particular regime and obscure transparency so that it is not easy to see that rules are applied in the same way for all concerned. They also impose costs on industry - whether directly or by affecting operating efficiency - so adversely affecting the competitiveness and viability of businesses and in doing so increase the economic pressures which undermine compliance. Incorporating industry expertise into the regulatory approach helps to over-come these difficulties.
The creation of the RACs represents a key milestone in tackling these issues. For the first time it will be possible to develop a regional picture of fisheries priorities within the EU and stakeholders with a direct interest in the CFP will have a direct say in the way the EU's fisheries are managed and will be able to input their experience and expertise into the process. RACs are advisory at present but even as advisers can have considerable influence as demonstrated by the successful role played by the North Sea RAC in advising the EU Commission on the 2004 fisheries negotiations. We hope the RACs will demonstrate the benefits to be had from creating both a regional perspective within the CFP and direct involvement from stakeholders in the management of fisheries resources.
There is a need for:
- An influential voice for the industry and involvement from other stakeholders in the international fisheries management system which will help us devise better, more effective, more regionally focussed fisheries regulation, both internationally within the EU and at home in Scotland.
Many of the actions in the previous chapters will contribute to meeting this need. In addition we will:
- Continue to support the ongoing development of RACs whilst also respecting their independent status by providing data, technical advice and assistance where appropriate. We will work with them to develop agreed positions on management proposals and help them, over time, to assume a management function (of course, within the confines of the constitutional position);
- Influence, as part of the UK negotiating team, developments towards simpler regulation at the EU level. In particular, we will pursue the introduction of regulatory impact assessments for all management measures;
- Support the implementation of the Community Fisheries Control Agency in pursuit of a level playing field on mechanisms designed to achieve recovery in threatened stocks e.g. cod;
- Support efforts to communicate key scientific principles and approaches to catcher audiences at the coast; and
- Discuss with the Advisory Group an "outward focus" strategy designed to ensure input from a range of interests beyond the confines of the fishing industry.
EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT MEASURES…
Broadly speaking, the fisheries management measures that give effect to sustainable fisheries and environmentally responsible fishing fall into the following categories:
- Structural measures in the form of restrictive licensing arrangements and constraints on engine power designed to control fleet size and shape and other forms of input control such as effort limitation including 'days at sea' schemes ( e.g. in the cod recovery plan) designed to limit the amount of time which a vessel can spend fishing;
- Technical Conservation measures, such as gear type and area based restrictions as described earlier in this document introduce constraints on fishing activities with the primary intention of minimising the by-catch of sensitive species or protecting spawning and other sensitive fishing grounds. Selective gear, designed to release live immature fish or recovery stocks, can often provide a more flexible alternative to other measures used to control fleet capacity or effort; and
- Output measures such as TACs and quotas, place limits on overall catches and, importantly, are a means of allocating fishing opportunities equitably amongst Member States and amongst vessels within Member States.
In recent years fisheries managers have tended to move away from a single management approach to one where a suite of different approaches are deployed. The challenge is to ensure the approaches taken properly complement each other, are effective, and yet sufficiently flexible within the limits of what is sustainable to achieve both stock management and environmental aims and fleet efficiency and viability. There are also problems within the approaches that need to be addressed.
The current arrangements for the allocation of quota to vessels have been in place for some time and have been characterised by some critics as confusing and bureaucratic giving neither clarity of ownership nor a transparent and fluid marketplace in fishing rights. Although it was not intended to deliver ownership or an effective marketplace, the existing method of allocating quota to Producer Organisations has led to a complex trade that does not necessarily share the quota amongst vessels in the most cost effective way. There are concerns that ownership uncertainty has also hindered investment and long term planning in the industry. Community quota schemes have arisen providing a ring-fenced quota pool to protect access to fishing rights in vulnerable fishing communities. It is not clear how widely applicable such schemes are and whether they can be properly reconciled with EU competition requirements.
Input controls have traditionally included restrictive licensing controls at a domestic level and other constraints on engine power and tonnage at a European level through the implementation of Multi-Annual Guidance Plans ( MAGP) and more recently controls on fleet levels through an entry/exit regime. These 'traditional' methods must now be seen against the background of other over-arching EU measures such as the Cod Recovery Plan. Current Cod Recovery arrangements do not take account of the individual
(or changing) circumstances of vessels, and affect their commercial viability. Alternative approaches to effort allocation and management are possible, but would need of course to be designed in ways to balance commercial with conservation considerations. Options include:
- Amended definitions of fisheries, so as to exclude from control arrangements those with no, or minimal, impact on cod stocks. This would have the added benefit of permitting enforcement resources and activity to be targeted at key areas of risk;
- Provision, indeed encouragement, for fishermen to access more sustainable fisheries rather than, as now, being excluded from doing so by access conditions set out in EU regulations; and
- More flexible approaches to effort allocation - which might include, for example, effort being allocated at the Member State or producer organisation level for management amongst vessels.
…THROUGH SIMPLIFICATION AND BETTER REGULATION
There is a need for:
- A review of quota management arrangements in the UK, including the review of the role and status of Producer Organisations;
- An examination, at national and European levels of alternative effort control arrangements that will provide the same level of protection to recovery stocks but which at the same time permit and promote access to other sustainable fisheries and more flexible, fairer effort allocation and management arrangements; and
- Long term stability in the fishing opportunities for the Scottish fleet and a fleet that is in balance with those opportunities.
We have already started working on many of these issues, in partnership with other relevant authorities and stakeholders. We will discuss our detailed action plans with the Advisory Group:
- We have initiated a UK-level wide-ranging review of Quota Management with stakeholders and the other Fisheries Administrations in the UK with the following strategic aims:
- Achieve compliance with UK quotas
- Facilitate the maximum level of UK quota uptake
- Be consistent with the sustainable management of fish stocks and the minimisation of discards
- Address the role of quota management in relation to vulnerable fishing communities
- Promote transparency, and individual accountability in the arrangements for the allocation and holding of quota
- Provide greater clarity and certainty with regard to the "ownership" of quota
- Address the holding and use of quota by the active UK fleet
- Improve communication and relationships between the catching and processing sectors
- Offer the flexibility to adapt to changes affecting the UK fishing industry;
- We will work with the catching industry and Producer Organisations to review current approaches to effort controls and feed this in at European level during 2005;
- We take forward work with stakeholders to explore the scope for more tailored approaches to gear type conservation measures;
- We will also continue to pursue greater flexibility in the allocation of fishing effort under recovery plans where there is clear scientific evidence that certain defined activity can take place with little or no impact on recovery stocks; and
- Work between the industry and Fisheries Administrations in the UK has been undertaken recently to model the relationships between fleet size and structure, sustainable biomass and maximum mortality rates. This model will be maintained as fisheries management develops and will be made available to industry to help inform business planning and inform discussions about fleet size and segmentation.
SEERAD's responsibilities for fisheries enforcement are delivered by the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency ( SFPA). Like FRS, the SFPA is an Executive Agency of SEERAD.
The SFPA's aim is to contribute to the conservation of fish stocks by enforcing UK, EU and International laws and regulations at sea within British Fishery Limits around Scotland and in Scottish ports and as required in international waters. The SFPA is responsible for enforcing those laws and regulations for both the UK and foreign vessels.
Its mission is to monitor the Industry's compliance with those laws and regulations through the effective deployment of its ships, aircraft and fisheries inspectorate and, where breaches are detected, the expeditious presentation of cases for prosecution.
SFPA AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY
The Agency's area of responsibility extends over some 127,000 square miles of British Fishery Limits, equating to nearly one quarter of EU waters, and an extensive coastline with numerous islands, ports, harbours and landing places.
The SFPA puts sustainability of fish stocks to the fore and is prioritising compliance by the Industry with the rules on conservation, control, inspection and enforcement of the CFP. It has highlighted the following key challenges for the future:
- To verify as far as possible adherence to reporting, recording and landing regulations and compliance with technical conservation measures by all segments of the fleet engaged in fishing for whitefish.
- To ensure adherence to Nephrops quotas, including verification of landing weights, and to associated technical conservation rules.
- To ensure the accurate reporting of catches and recording of all landings of pelagic fisheries.
- To verify compliance with technical conservation measures in shellfish fisheries.
- To check the by-catch element in industrial catches.
- To assist in promoting quality.
Looking to the future, the SFPA may also have an important role to play in the following areas:
- Enforcement of the coastal and marine national park to be established as part of the Scottish marine strategy;
- Enforcement of regulating orders in the wake of forthcoming legislation; and
- Any other additional requirements of marine legislation taken forward in the Scottish and UK Parliaments.
…BY ENHANCING ENFORCEMENT PRE AND POST LANDING
While building a culture of compliance is primarily about changing behaviour, enforcement - monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activity and sanctions for breaches of fisheries management rules and regulations - is a crucial underpinning element necessary to protect the honest from the unscrupulous, to protect stocks and to protect prices. This is not just at the micro level - prevention of unfair competitive advantage - but at the national and international level. Our ability to influence the European fisheries management agenda depends to a large extent on our credibility as honest players.
We have come under considerable criticism in the past, most recently from the European Commission in November 2003, for alleged shortcomings in fisheries enforcement in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This is to the detriment of everyone throughout the fisheries supply chain. Since then improvements have been made. We are determined to build upon progress. A recent report by the European Commission concluded that Scotland and the rest of the UK was implementing the Cod Recovery controls better than any other Member State.
There is a need for:
- Strategies designed to improve both enforcement at sea and on land i.e. pre and post landing controls; and
- Robust but fair enforcement, on a risk-based, targeted basis designed to benefit from new technology as it becomes available.
We will continue to develop our pre- and post- landing enforcement measures. We will ask the Advisory Group to work with us to improve the tolerance and effectiveness of controls and of our enforcement activity. Equity is important so we will also be pressing, in EU negotiations, including through the auspices of the planned Community Fisheries Control Agency, for better, more consistent standards of enforcement across the Community.
- We are introducing tamper resistant VMS to all vessels over 15 metres and meeting the costs involved to improve surveillance arrangements and contribute to enforcement activity; this will be completed within a year. We will implement
e-log books in accordance with the agreed EU timetable; and
- We will explore options for a wider system of administrative penalties as an alternative or complement to criminal prosecution;
- We are introducing a system of designated auction centres /registered buyers and sellers of fish in the UK, to extend the traceability of fish and responsibility for record keeping and returns on fish landings beyond the quayside;
- We are developing a closer working relationships with other regulatory authorities including trading standards departments initially in relation to pelagic controls but increasingly across a range of fisheries matters; and
- We will continue to develop our enforcement activities with an increasing emphasis on post landing checks.