Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees (T9)

  The Association welcomes the invitation from the Committee to submit a further Memorandum in advance of the Committee session on Wednesday, 9 May 2001, when the Fisheries Minister, Mr Elliot Morley has been invited to report on the progress by HM Government in implementing the Committee's recommendations contained in their Report published in 1999 on Sea Fishing—(HC141, Session 1998-99).

  Since the Association gave evidence to the Committee and since the Committee's Report has been published, together with the Government's Response, the Association has produced its own Report entitled "1888-2000 and Beyond" on The Role of Sea Fisheries Committees in the Management and Regulation of the Coastal Waters of England and Wales.

  The Report contains nine specific recommendations to Government and concludes—Paragraph 10 "The Association firmly believes that coastal state management of inshore waters of the UK out to 12nm from baselines, within or without the Common Fisheries Policy, is a logical step to ensure sustainable and properly regulated fisheries. The Government should take steps under subsidiarity and at the earliest opportunity to introduce primary legislation to create securely funded statutory bodies with adequate powers. These should be based on the existing concept of Sea Fisheries Committees as recommended in this Report".

  Since the publication and distribution of that Report there have been a number of reports relating to inshore waters and inshore fisheries, in particular the "IEEP—Managing Inshore Fisheries: Time for a Change" Report, "The Future of Inshore Fisheries", a discussion document produced by the Wildlife Trusts and a joint publication by The Scottish Fishermen's Federation and RSPB Scotland entitled "Scotland's Inshore Fisheries: Time for Change". All these reports and documents reinforce the main thrust of this Association's Report and conclusion, particularly now that the European Commission has published its "Green Paper" on the Common Fisheries Policy.

  "The Green Paper" makes it clear that the basic objectives of the six to 12 mile coastal zone regime were to protect fisheries resources by reserving access to small-scale coastal fisheries activities, which in general put less pressure on stocks in these zones. It also recognises the need for Member States to adopt conservation measures applicable to all vessels operating in the six and 12 mile zones. This recognition, together with that relating to national rights to be retained within the six and 12 mile limits on the basis of a rollover of the existing regime, would seem to confirm that there is now a consensus view that Member States should be responsible for their inshore waters out to 12 miles and they should have the appropriate mechanisms to ensure that local rules and management are enforced within those zones.

  The arguments are well rehearsed and the Association is quite confident that members of the Committee will be well aware of them as many are reflected in the Committee's own report and recommendations to Government.

  Unfortunately, so far as the Association is aware, none of the Committee's recommendations contained in paragraphs 112, 147, 149, 150, 153 and 154, all of which impinge or affect the role and jurisdiction of Sea Fisheries Committees and others within the coastal zone, have been progressed by the Government. The Association, therefore, welcomes the Committee's proposal to ask the Fisheries Minister to account for the Government's actions since the Committee's Report and recommendations were published. This memorandum only relates to those areas of your Committee's Report, which primarily affect Sea Fisheries Committees and the inshore waters; others with more knowledge and involvement are better placed to make observations to the Committee on other recommendations contained in the Report. This Association was, however, pleased to receive the Committee's recommendations, which were very positive and supportive of our case but have been extremely disappointed that to date they have not been progressed by Government.

27 April 2001

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