Examination of witness (Questions 80-99)|
WEDNESDAY 9 MAY 2001
MORLEY MP Chairman
80. That is not part of the argument.
(Mr Morley) It is, because when we have been discussing
things like the support for fuel, where I cast severe doubts on
the legality of the French package, the French response was "your
taxation policies are a form of unfair competition because the
operating costs for your industry are much lower than ours".
81. That is a debating point.
(Mr Morley) That is the reality of the situation.
82. The other reality is that the competing
industries get, for instance, much easier treatment when it comes
to unemployment. Fishermen in the periods when they are not fishing
are much more generously treated when it comes to unemployment
benefit, and that was part of some of the packages of improvement
in that situation. Ours have to face the rigours of Jobseeker's
Allowance, which is really difficult for share fishermen. Let
us not reply to the one debating point with another debating point.
The point is that heavier charges are imposed on our industry
but MAFF, which should be the protector of the industry in easing
that kind of burden, is not able to do so because they are imposed
by other departments and there is a genuine unfairness there.
(Mr Morley) I repeat the point that I think there
is always going to be an ongoing argument about different charges
and it is a legitimate issue for the industry to raise. I think
these are issues that we have to address on the basis of the particular
charge and the strength of the particular case.
83. The recent update you have provided us with
refers to an EU wide framework for the collection of data on the
economics of the sea fishing industry, which was agreed by the
Fisheries Council in June 2000, to enable a relative comparative
assessment and a fair assessment of the costs and earnings of
the fishing fleet in the competing industries. In your view, will
this identify the real comparative costs of both regulations and
the kinds of additional burdens that are pressed on our industry
and allow us to have a fair basis of comparison with other Member
States, which we should have had some time ago?
(Mr Morley) In theory it should, Austin, and I support
the concept of having this kind of data so that we can have a
look at what other industries are doing. It does, of course, depend
on the quality and the reliability of the data that is presented.
84. Minister, quotas and discards now, which
are obviously one of the more emotive parts of the policy. You
said you were going to look at recording permanent transfers through
the annual reconciliation of fixed quota allocation units. You
have already agreed that within the pelagic sector ITQs, although
not called that, operate de facto. I also recall when you
gave evidence to our original inquiry you said that there was
a lot of argument in favour of trying to introduce a market mechanism
but you needed to get the industry on board, which I think probably
reflected on my own experience that the second coming, or perhaps
the third coming, would come earlier. What progress has been made
on the quota-trading area and how much further do you see it developing?
(Mr Morley) We are currently out to consultation on
the fixed quota allocation system. That is an opportunity for
looking at the way that works and addressing some of the points
that were raised in the last Committee. I personally think that
the fixed quota allocation system has been successful. I think
it has provided a range of benefits, not least this track record
problem of ghost fishing and all the problems that went with that,
and also the fixed quota allocation system does provide a better
basis for a more logical management of fish quotas. You are quite
right, Chairman, about the de facto ITQs within the pelagic
sector, but some of the POs actually operate ITQs within the PO
and, of course, they have the freedom to do that.
85. The report of the Working Group published
in September last year, what is the progress on those recommendations?
(Mr Morley) The Working Group on?
86. Published in September 2000. It is the Working
Group on Quotas and the Permanent Transfers.
(Mr Morley) That is right. The Working Group report,
if I recall, is the one which is on the basis of the Working Group
on Quota Trading and Related Issues.
87. Quota Management and Licensing.
(Mr Morley) That is the one which is out for consultation
at the present time.
88. Discards: it is difficult to see how you
can manage a quota system without discards but, equally, it is
difficult to see how you can manage the flak which comes from
people seeing discards. You undertook to use the results of research
into the economic aspects of discards in considering improvements
nationally at the European Union level. That was in your latest
(Mr Morley) That is right.
89. What questions have emerged from this research
which might give us a way of dealing with this issue?
(Mr Morley) I do not think the conclusions of the
research into quotas is finished yet, I have not seen the report
on that. We have pressed the Commission on this, as we said, in
the response to the Select Committee report. The Commission are
bringing forward proposals about where multi-annual quotas can
be applied on a wider range of species, which is something that
we very strongly support. It is, of course, very difficult to
do this when stocks are in poor shape.
90. Can you just update me on the latest data?
One hears so many figures bandied about about levels of discards,
can you just give us any kind of statistical feel as to how you
see the present situation?
(Mr Morley) It varies in different fisheries. The
discard rate, for example, in the North North Sea mixed fishery,
particularly in the haddock fishery, is probably around about
40 per cent I would say.
91. Forty per cent?
(Mr Morley) Yes.
92. Is that the highest?
(Mr Morley) I think it has always run at a level of
between 30 and up to 50 per cent in that particular fishery. It
has always been a very high discard fishery.
93. Just to go back to the system of quotas
that you were describing a moment ago, is that a rolling programme
where you would accept that you would land discards as part of
a catch but then adjust the quota later on?
(Mr Morley) The idea of the multi-annual quotas, and
it touches upon an issue which often confuses some people when
you talk about discardsThe most indignation comes from
marketable fish which has to be thrown over the side because the
quota has been exhausted. Multi-annual quotas would remove that
because you would have an element of adjustment in relation to
year on year where you may be a bit over on one year and a bit
less on the other, so you can even it out on a three to five year
rolling programme, say. That deals with that problem but it does
not deal with the problem of juvenile and unmarketable discards,
which is by far the largest element of discards in our fishing
grounds. The 40 per cent discards I was talking about in the North
North Sea are predominantly juvenile fish, they are not a result
of quota management, it is just the fact that they are not marketable.
94. The Green Paper talks about Integrated Coastal
Zone Management and it may be that here we have the glimmerings
of a policy over which there may be some "ownership"
of value of fisheries depending on where the balance of power
lies between decision making between the supervisory role of the
Commission and decision making powers of local management. Do
you support this move in principle?
(Mr Morley) Yes, I do, Chairman, I think it is a sensible
95. Do the Sea Fisheries Committees have a role
to play in it?
(Mr Morley) I think so. I think that in relation to
coastal management policies into our coastal fisheries, the Sea
Fisheries Committees have a very important role to play. One of
the areas where they may have an enhanced role, Chairman, is you
will know that we are currently consulting on a shellfish licence
which I, personally, strongly support, and I think the administration
of that licence could be a role for the Sea Fisheries Committees.
96. Because there are, indeed, outstanding issues
about the powers and resources of the Committees. When might we
expect you to conclude your reflections upon this?
(Mr Morley) On the consultation period?
97. In an uninterrupted world.
(Mr Morley) I do not know offhand. It cannot be very
far away, Chairman, because of the closure date for consultation.
98. The Association of Sea Fisheries Committees
would like to see coastal waters of Member States extended to
a limit of 12 nautical miles.
(Mr Morley) Yes.
99. Not a surprising demand, I suppose. What
is your view?
(Mr Morley) If we could get agreement on that I would
be delighted to do that. We do, of course, have jurisdiction out
to 12 miles but there are historical rights of vessels, as you
know, Chairman, between six and 12 for a limited number of countries
and there are restrictions in relation to the size of vessels
and things like that. I would strongly argue, and indeed have
argued within the Council of Ministers, that giving Member States
much more control out to 12 miles is a way of strengthening conservation
management, particularly of our inshore sector which tends to
be a low impact fishery. I think there is a very strong argument
for strengthening the role out to 12 miles and, indeed, I am prepared
to argue for that and see what support there is within the Council