Select Committee on Agriculture Second Special Report

APPENDIX (continued)


27. No recent developments.

Recommendation 20: We recommend that any publicly-financed grant scheme for the modernisation of vessels working within low-impact fisheries meet the criteria of the continual reduction of fishing capacity in line with available fish stocks, safety, the sustainability of the fishing method and that short-term targeted assistance would be effective (paragraph 76).

28. Under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, a structural fund providing EU grants for fishermen, Member States may establish grant programmes covering the period 2000-2006. Separate programmes are being established for each of the Objective 1 and transitional Objective 1 regions, and for the remaining areas of the UK. The Ministry and the devolved administrations are separately responsible for measures in their own countries and are developing programmes in consultation with interested organisations. It is envisaged that measures to promote safety and sustainability will be among the priorities for funding.

Recommendation 21: We recommend that MAFF provide clear guidance on the legal title to licences and quota in the context of transactions between individuals and/or organisations (paragraph 86).

Recommendation 22: We believe that there is a strong case for taking certain low-impact fisheries such as mackerel hand-lining out of the quota system altogether which would encourage new entrants, and we urge MAFF to examine this possibility with care (paragraph 97).

Recommendation 23: We recommend that, in conjunction with representatives of the fishing industry, the Government devise proposals for managing the existing trade in licences and quota, with a view to introducing them as a matter of urgency (paragraph 101).

Recommendation 24: We recommend that the Government consult the fishing industry on the merits and drawbacks of tradeable quotas and the most appropriate form for their introduction in the UK, including the future management role of the POs and the extent of safeguards, for example to protect fishing-dependent communities, and report on the outcome of these consultations within a year (paragraph 101).

29. Joint UK industry/departmental working group meetings were held to consider the Committee's recommendations on quota management and licensing and how they might be pursued in the UK context. A report from the working group was published in September 2000 and a copy has been sent to the Select Committee. The report recommended that Fisheries Departments should draw up a guidance note for fishermen which would include advice on entitlement to quota and licences; that low impact fisheries should be accommodated within the general framework of quota management; and that the UK's existing quota management arrangements should not be replaced by a system of individual transfer quotas (ITQs). The working group also concluded that no further measures were necessary to manage the existing trade in quota other than to consider provision for recording permanent transfers through the annual reconciliation of fixed quota allocation (FQA) units. This will be considered as part of a wider review of FQAs, which is being brought forward to commence in autumn 2000.

Recommendation 25: We support the principle of no take zones and closed areas and we recommend that MAFF sympathetically consider and encourage research into specific proposals brought forward by the industry. However, we emphasise that under the CFP these measures would have to be non-discriminatory and apply to all vessels not just UK fishing. They would therefore have to be agreed on a European basis (paragraph 106).

30. The possibility of closed areas has been discussed in the UK Fisheries Conservation Group. The industry in the south west has met with CEFAS scientists to discuss the benefits of a potential closure in their area and has been in discussion with fishermen from other countries working in the area to see if a common viewpoint can be found. The UK secured agreement at the December 1999 Council to the establishment of an area closed to sandeel fishing for 2000 stretching from mid-Northumberland to the Moray Firth to protect the food needed by breeding sea birds. This closure has subsequently been extended for a further two years for 2001 and 2002. The December 1999 Council also settled on the need to develop a recovery plan for the cod stock in the Irish Sea. Details were agreed over the first few weeks of 2000 and included an area closure to protect spawning cod. Subsequently a gentlemen's agreement to keep beam trawlers out of the area was put in place. A range of additional technical conservation measures for the Irish Sea has been developed. This should be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers soon, following receipt of the European Parliament opinion. It is intended that the new measures should apply from 1 January 2001. Discussions at EU level with the fishing industry on necessary revisions to the cod area closure for 2001 took place in October.

Recommendation 26: We recommend that MAFF examine the feasibility and effectiveness of introducing in the UK a similar system to the Icelandic arrangements for the non-profit sale of over-quota fish (paragraph 108).

31. This issue was discussed in detail with the UK industry at a joint Government/industry working group. There was no enthusiasm for moving towards a similar arrangement in the UK and it was considered unlikely that support would be forthcoming from other Member States even if the UK wished to do so. Such a policy would only work where a discard ban operated and this would be difficult to police in the mixed fisheries found within Community waters. A current research project on the economic aspects of discarding, which will be analysing the experience of the Norwegian discard ban and lessons for the EU, may provide new information in due course.

Recommendation 27: We recommend that MAFF consider measures to reduce discards through more flexible quota management and that it continue to promote within Europe the use of more selective fishing gear (paragraph 109).

32. We are taking action to monitor the effects of new technical conservation measures. We will also use the results of research into the economic aspects of discarding in considering further improvements nationally and at EU level.

Recommendation 28: We recommend that the Government attend to the publication of the concordat on fisheries management as a matter of urgency (paragraph 111).

33. The MAFF/Scottish Executive concordat on fisheries was published on 3 November 1999.

Recommendation 29: We recommend that the jurisdiction of the Sea Fisheries Committees and the Environment Agency be reviewed to ensure consistency of approach within individual fisheries (paragraph 112)

34. Action has been subject to the receipt of two reports. The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review was published in March 2000 and the Government intends to publish its response by the end of 2000. '1888 - 2000 and beyond', a report by the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees was published in June 2000. At the annual statutory meeting held in July 2000 between the ASFC and MAFF chaired by Elliot Morley an initial discussion of the report took place. Further detailed discussions will be held once the ASFC has completed a consultation exercise with the industry and other interested parties.

Recommendation 30: We recommend that the government set out its objectives for the future role of POs, including the devolvement of further responsibilities in order to streamline the management process, taking into account the cost and ability of POs to take on those responsibilities, and the position of the non-sector fleet. Duplication of tasks between willing POs and MAFF should be eliminated, subject to appropriate audit checks (paragraph 115).

35. The Government is pursuing this recommendation in the context of the implementation of new EU legislation on data management. Arrangements for improving data flows through electronic communications are being discussed with POs.

Recommendation 31: We recommend that the Government make more use of electronic communications in licence issues, particularly with regard to the single licence rule for the pelagic fleet (paragraph 118).

36. The Fisheries Departments in the UK completed a joint review with industry of pelagic management arrangements in Autumn 1999. A number of changes were recommended including some on the easing of the arrangements for issuing and collecting herring licences. The new arrangements were introduced in time for the 2000 herring fisheries.

Recommendation 32: We recommend that the Government prepare an audit of all regulations and their compliance costs relating to the UK fishing fleet and that this work be used as a database which can be updated to provide accurate and accessible information on the regulatory burden when considering new measures. We also recommend that similar audits and databases be established for compliance cost with regulations in each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (paragraph 119).

Recommendation 33: We recommend that the Government either commission itself or bring pressure to bear on the European Commission to initiate research into the comparative costs to the fishing industry of compliance with the regulatory framework in the different Member States of other charges pressing on it and the comparative levels of support (see paragraph 120)

Recommendation 34: We recommend that UK diplomatic posts be charged with monitoring the means of implementing EU directives and the costs pressing on the industry in other Member States and that this information be disseminated to the UK industry. Where there are clear discrepancies in approach, the UK Government should provide an explanation for the additional requirements it has introduced, although the presumption should always be in favour of ensuring UK fishermen are treated equally with their counterparts in other Member States. The approach to regulation should always be guided by the principles we set out in paragraph 3 of this Report (paragraph 122).

Recommendation 35: We recommend that the Government continue to review all regulations imposed on the fishing industry with a view to ensuring that the regulatory system be streamlined and restrictions removed unless there is reason for their continuance consistent with the objectives we have set. However, we recommend the continuation of the designated ports scheme as a means of concentrating the industry and ensuring more effective management (paragraph 131).

37. Priority has been given to reviewing the operation of quota management (see comments under recommendations 21-24) and a further review of the licensing arrangements for fishing vessels, with particular reference to the capacity penalties applying to the transfer and aggregation of licences. Specific action has been taken to provide for a fast-track procedure for the transfer of licence entitlements between fishermen.

Recommendation 36: We recommend that if the satellite monitoring requirements are extended to vessels under 24 metres in length the Government either take up any EU funding available to subsidise the installation of the necessary equipment by the industry or produce reductions in the regulatory burden on fishermen to balance the costs (paragraph 127).

38. The position has not changed since the update provided in March 2000. Fisheries Departments will see how the regulatory burden on fishermen can be reduced in the light of the experience gained from the satellite monitoring of fishing vessel activity. Decisions on any extension of satellite monitoring remain unlikely in the immediate future.

Recommendation 37: We recommend that the Government commission a review of how the prosecution process for fishing offences could be made more efficient, more speedy and more consistent (paragraph 136).

Recommendation 38: We recommend that the penalties for serious breaches of fisheries regulations be increased and that information tables be published on the fines levied in different courts to ensure common levels of charges. We also recommend that licences be revoked for second offences (paragraph 136).

39. As set out in the orginal Government response and subsequent update, the existing situation addresses these points as far as possible.

Recommendation 39: We recommend that to increase transparency the Government propose that the European Commission speed up publication of its reports on enforcement so that both areas of difficulty and improvements, in general and in individual Member States, are highlighted in a timely fashion (paragraph 139).

Recommendation 40: We urge the Commission to ensure more regular inspections of European port practices and to produce an annual report to the European Parliament (paragraph 139).

40. We have brought these recommendations to the attention of the Commission. Although the Commission has not provided any reports on enforcement activity since early 1998, the Commission held a major conference on enforcement in October 2000 and plans to undertake a three year assessment of enforcement in early 2001.

Recommendation 41: We recommend that MAFF encourage reciprocal visits by fishermen to other Member States in order to build up trust between fishermen and to encourage the sense of a common purpose. Furthermore, we recommend that the Government promote visits by its own regulators to other Member States to exchange knowledge on best practice. We also recommend that the Government monitor the standards of enforcement applied in the Member States through its embassies and rigorously pursue any breaches with the European Commission (paragraph 141).

41. This recommendation has been drawn to the attention of fishermen's organisations. In addition, following a meeting in July 2000 between UK and Spanish Ministers, arrangements are in hand for the establishment of a UK-Spanish fishing industry liaison committee. Contact at official level is continuing, as noted previously.

Recommendation 42: We conclude that in general the UK is providing an acceptable standard of enforcing regulations and that it has taken steps to address areas of weakness identified by the European Commission (paragraph 142).

42. There is no new action required.

Recommendation 43: The Minister pointed out that enforcement "is about sustainable management". This message has to be brought home to the industry but this can only be achieved where there is trust between the two sides. We can offer no easy solutions to this problem, only a reiteration of our conviction that the Government must set out a clear framework for its strategy on fisheries and must work with the industry to ensure parity of treatment within the EU. It should also seek to transfer a proportion of the regulatory task to fishermen so that ownership of the process is genuinely shared (paragraph 143).

43. See comments on recommendations 1 and 2.

Recommendation 44: We recommend that MAFF initiate a full review of the powers of the Sea Fisheries Committees and publish it together with a timetable for any necessary action (paragraph 147).

Recommendation 45: We recommend that the funding arrangements for Sea Fisheries Committees be re-examined in order to establish a secure, permanent financial framework within which they can plan and perform their duties (paragraph 149).

Recommendation 46: We recommend that the Ministry investigate the powers available to Sea Fisheries Committees and other local management bodies to take action on environmental grounds and publish proposals for consultation on action needed to close the loopholes (paragraph 150).

44. See comments on recommendation 29.

Recommendation 47: We recommend that the Government publish outline proposals within the next twelve months for the introduction of coastal and zonal management of fisheries which should involve the management of research, monitoring of activities and common regulatory processes (paragraph 153).

45. The SFF and NFFO have issued a document on zonal management and the Greenwich Forum held a conference on this subject in September 2000. These actions have usefully promoted debate about the scope for zonal management which the UK is encouraging the Commission to take up in its forthcoming Green Paper on the 2002 Review.

Recommendation 48: We of course welcome the reassurance by the European Commission and others that the 6 and 12 mile limits will be carried over into any future shape the CFP might take and we fully support the retention of the 6 and 12 mile limits after 2002 (paragraph 154).

46. There is currently no new action required.

Recommendation 49: We recommend that SFIA undertake a campaign aimed at the industry and port officials to persuade them of the benefits of electronic auctions and that guidance be given where necessary on the updating of the grading equipment (paragraph 159).

47. The SFIA has considered that it should provide information, advice and contacts so that the industry and responsible officials at individual port markets could assess the advantages, disadvantages and timings of introducing electronic auction systems. Several markets have already introduced electronic auctions and others are either planning to do so or are still considering their options. The SFIA has been providing technical advice on grading systems and has participated with individual skippers in trials of grading, labelling and electronic data transmission at sea.

Recommendation 50: We recommend that the SFIA, in consultation with the industry and taking account of the views of supermarkets, devise a marketing strategy to cover the catching sector through to the suppliers with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of the UK fishing industry (paragraph 169).

Recommendation 51: We recommend that a forum be established under the auspices of the SFIA to bring together retailers and merchants and industry representatives on a regular basis to discuss how both sides can adjust to the needs and concerns of each other (paragraph 169).

Recommendation 52: We recommend that a separate working group be established to focus on areas of difficulty and opportunity for UK fish sales to the catering sector (paragraph 169). We recommend the SFIA take forward the initiative on eco-labelling (paragraph 175).

48. Retailers, merchants and industry representatives have been brought together in the Fish Industry Forum whose members are contributing to the strategy (see recommendations 1 and 2) which aims to cover the catching sector through to suppliers and to contribute towards increased competitiveness of the UK industry. Catering representation has been added to the SFIA's Development Advisory Committee, on which retailers were already included. Additionally, the SFIA's recently expanded Trade Development team is regularly calling on "key accounts", including the major retail and catering groups and their fish product suppliers (processors).

49. The SFIA is taking forward the initiative on eco-labelling as part of a much wider EU Concerted Action programme covering labelling requirements for fish and fish products. The next steps are to consider the practical operation, management and control of quality labelling and monitoring schemes. For any credible eco-labelling system, there must be accurate and auditable systems for tracing the origin of the labelled fish. EU funding has already been agreed for a further Concerted Action project on traceability in the fish industry - "Tracefish" - in which the SFIA will participate.

Recommendation 53: We recommend that the marketing, processing and port facilities scheme be reinstated in order to enhance the competitiveness of the UK sea fishing industry (paragraph 169).

50. Grants for marketing, processing and port facilities are proposed as part of the programmes of FIFG aid described in the response to recommendation 20 above.

Recommendation 54: We recommend that the Government together with the SFIA and the Food Standards Agency initiate a campaign to promote the perception of fish as a healthy, convenient meal option for all ages (paragraph 172).

51. The SFIA budget for 2000-01 contains funds for market development, including advice to consumers on the benefits of eating fish. The SFIA's corporate plan envisaged that its resources would not enable continuation of a mass media advertising campaign in addition to this without Government funding under the EU fisheries structural fund (FIFG). On the basis of the range of priorities for expenditure under FIFG the Government has decided not at this stage to allocate funds to a further mass media campaign, following the substantial expenditure of recent years.

52. The Food Standards Agency continues to give the long standing Government advice on healthy eating. People are encouraged to eat a balanced diet made up of high proportions of fruits and vegetables and starchy foods, with moderate amounts of meat, fish and alternatives, and milk and dairy foods and small infrequent amount of foods high in fat or sugar. The specific advice on fats in the diet encourage people to eat one portion of oily fish a week.

Recommendation 55: We recommend that the Government consider extending liability for paying the SFIA levy to the aquaculture sector (paragraph 181).

53. The SFIA has recommended to the Government that the levy should be extended to include farmed salmon and migratory trout. Following discussions with Government, the SFIA intends to consult representatives of the salmon and trout industry on this proposal. Extension would require primary legislation, for which Parliamentary time would need to be found.

Recommendation 56: The availability of grants in other EU Member States to help processors there meet the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Directive seems to us a clear-cut case of the UK industry being disadvantaged in a competitive market. Unlike fishermen with quotas, merchants and processors are not guaranteed a percentage share of the market and they are forced to compete with their counterparts in other Member States for the custom of supermarkets and caterers. The impact of the charges on their competitiveness does not even appear to have been assessed by the Government (paragraph 188).

Recommendation 57: It is essential that the imposition of the increased charges on processors by the water authorities be delayed, and then only phased in, to give the industry time to develop alternatives and to minimise waste (paragraph 189).

54. The Government welcomes the settlement of the dispute between the Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association and Anglian Water. The agreement negotiated and now in force governs the future basis of trade effluent charges at the port from 1 July 2000. This is a long-term settlement, to provide a stable basis for charges for at least three years, and a large part of the deal is a co-operative effort to reduce the volume and potency of the affluent. A solution to the charges issue that also reduces discharges to the environment is doubly welcome.

55. The settlement at Grimsby is not the end of the issue of trade effluent charges nationally, but it does suggest that, with proper sensitivity and local negotiation, an agreed basis of charges is possible even where our commitment to higher environmental standards necessarily increases the costs of effluent treatment.

Recommendation 58: We commend the far-sighted proposal for a National Institute of Fisheries in Grimsby to the Government and urge MAFF to explore with the Department for Education and Employment the possibility of establishing such an Institute, to provide for the whole fishing industry a similar range of training, research, advisory and scientific study to that provided by the North Atlantic Fisheries College in Shetland and national institutions in other EU countries (192).

56. At a meeting with the consortium interested in the proposal for a National Institute based at Grimsby, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food invited the consortium to develop its case for an Institute further, in support of its request for grant aid towards a feasibility study.

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

November 2000

Ninth Report

(1998-99 Session): MAFF/Intervention Board Departmental Report 2000

Specific Action

Recommendation 1: We reiterate our recommendations that the fishing safety grants scheme and the fish processing, marketing and port facilities schemes be reinstated in order to enhance the competitiveness of the UK sea fishing industry.

1. The Government believes that the fishing safety grants scheme which was closed in 1999, providing grant aid for safety equipment which was already mandatory, was not effective in reducing the number of accidents. The Government is encouraging the industry to develop a stronger safety culture and has begun to consult the industry on a new programme of training courses. Fisheries Departments propose to make these courses free to fishermen through the allocation of grant aid under the fisheries structural fund for the period 2001-2002 and 2003-2004. Fisheries Ministers are also considering with the industry a grant scheme to support trials of innovative equipment which will bring safety benefits. Grants for marketing, processing and port facilities are also proposed as part of the programmes of grant aid described above.

Recommendation 2: We recommend that MAFF ring fence its R&D budget to guarantee that there are no further reductions in this area.

2. The Committee will want to note the main elements of the MAFF Spending Review 2000 settlement in respect of its science programmes. Increased funding has been provided in the following areas:

3. £26.2m over the SR 2000 period for research and surveillance on TSEs in sheep, plus an additional £10.5m to invest in facilities for this work;

4. Over £57m for the improvement and refurbishment of laboratory facilities at MAFF's Veterinary Laboratories Agency for TSE research; and R&D, diagnosis and surveillance of other major animal diseases including those transmissible to humans;

5. Some £14m to complete procurement of a new marine research vessel.

6. On the R&D programme expenditure, the Ministry plans to keep its spend constant, in real terms, at about £106m throughout the SR 2000 period. Ministers will be examining the results of a recent public consultation on the draft MAFF R&D Strategy 2001-2005, and the advice of the new MAFF Science Committee which will advise on these and budgetary issues.

Recommendation 4: We expect MAFF to examine rigorously other heads of expenditure to ensure maximum efficiency in delivering policy objectives.

7. MAFF is committed to ensuring maximum efficiency in delivering its policy objectives. The Better Quality Services Reviews of CAP Administration and IT have been completed and changes are now being implemented. The Department's Better Quality Services programme for reviewing all its services and activities is continuing and over 60% of the programme, by value, will be completed by March 2003.

Recommendation 5: The Foreign Affairs Committee recommended that there should be just two sets of objectives for the FCO: one annual, one for three years. This seems to us a sensible suggestion as it allows for annual assessment of progress as well as planning for the whole of the CSR period. We therefore make a similar recommendation in respect of MAFF.

8. Departmental objectives are agreed for the period of the CSR but the Department continues to seek to ensure that there is a range of related targets to enable both annual assessment of progress and longer term planning. We have reported on annual progress against objectives in the Departmental Report 2000 and will continue to do so.

Recommendation 6: We do not dispute that MAFF made representations to the Treasury but the Ministry seems to have adopted an unnecessary degree of cynicism in accepting what it perceives to be unhelpful and unworkable targets. We expect to see much greater ownership of the Business Plan and a stronger commitment to a workable public service agreement.

9. MAFF is committed to improving its business planning process, which is now in its third year of operation. Plans and targets have been cascaded internally to help ensure that staff at all levels know what their work unit is about and are clear on their role and responsibilities within it. As part of the Spending Review 2000, MAFF has now published a new Service Delivery Agreement for 2001 - 2004, which incorporates revised Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets. These will be fully incorporated in our business plans for 2001/02. A central aim of MAFF's internal communications strategy is to ensure that staff are aware of the 'golden thread' which pulls together the Department's aims and objectives, the Business Plan, group and team business plans within it and personal objectives of the individuals within each team. We aim to have good business planning prepared in a way that involves and empowers staff and ensures rigorous performance review. The Department is also establishing an independent review of MAFF's corporate and group business plans before the end of this financial year.

Recommendation 9: We recommend that MAFF audit all regulatory activity against need, comparative cost and the actions of competitors and ensure access to regular intelligence on competitor performance in these respects.

10. An updated response to this recommendation was provided in the Government's Reply to the Ninth Report from the Agriculture Committee, Session 1999-2000, "MAFF/Intervention Board/Forestry Commission Departmental Report 2000", paragraph 19.

Recommendation 10: We believe that administrative costs of other CAP schemes, such as the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, are too high in comparison to the funding paid to farmers. At a time when MAFF's budget is under severe pressure, rises in the cost of administration, particularly if they are at the expense of payments to those the Ministry serves, would be wholly unacceptable.

11. MAFF continues to seek to deliver agri-environment schemes in the most cost effective manner recognising that, to achieve maximum environmental value for money, detailed input from technical staff is required. Between 1996/97 and 1999/2000 the cost of implementing the schemes has been reduced, as a proportion of payments to farmers. During this period, the costs for scheme monitoring and the provision of technical advice rose from £12.3 million to just over £14 million, while payments to farmers almost doubled.

12. In addition, in order to cope with the doubling of applications for Countryside Stewardship in 2000, we introduced a number of steps to help streamline the application process.

13. We also plan to carry out a major review of agri-environment schemes to consider reshaping and simplifying them in time to feed in to the mid-term evaluation of the England Rural Development Programme in 2003.

Recommendation 11: We recommend committed MAFF involvement in the establishment of regional and cross-regional strategies and furthering those strategies.

14. MAFF has worked closely with the Regional Development Agencies and other regional partners during the preparation of regional economic strategies, and regional chapters of the England Rural Development Plan.

15. We are now working up detailed proposals for strengthening our regional strategic activities through greater integration with the Government Offices for the Regions (GOs), and from 1 April 2001 we will have a Director, supported by a small team, in each GO. The closer relationship with the GOs will enhance our contribution to regional policy making, putting the food chain at the heart of regional economic planning, in partnership with other agencies including the RDAs.

Recommendation 12: We expect information to be made available on the full cost of the inquiry to the public purse, including, for example, the cost of officials' time in all relevant departments.

16. The BSE Inquiry report was published on 26 October 2000. Information on the full cost of the inquiry to the public purse will be made available to the Committee.

Recommendation 13: We expect to see great improvements in the Report next year and recommend that every effort is made to reduce the cost and length and increase both the accuracy and the ease of reference of this important document.

17. The Committee considered the 2000 report to be 'a great improvement'; it was commended in particular for its length, readability and cost. The 2001 report will be equally mindful of the above recommendations.

Recommendation 14: We hope that the Intervention Board will continue to work to persuade the Treasury of the importance of adopting public service agreement targets and performance measurements which relate more directly to the needs of clients.

18. As part of Spending Review 2000 the Intervention Board has worked closely with Treasury to draw up a Service Delivery Agreement containing challenging targets and performance standards that reflect both the regulatory nature of its business and the requirements of its customers. The latter have been drawn from regular contact with customers through six-monthly 'Trade Consultation Group' meetings, more frequent trade liaison committees, and annual customer satisfaction surveys.

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