The NFFO argues that additional quota secured by the UK under the terms of the agreement with the EU should be used primarily to address cases where acute quota shortages threaten the viability of fishing vessels.
In a letter to Secretary of State George Eustice, the NFFO states that some areas of the fishing industry have already seen the emergence of sharp elbows and insularity about how to allocate the modest increases in additional quota secured by the UK under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
‘The additional quota secured by the UK is not evenly distributed across stocks, fisheries or regions. Some have experienced windfalls, while other face crisis because access to additional quota through international swaps is to be replaced by a much more cumbersome system of international exchanges at state-to-state level, with no guarantee about how whether that mechanism will deliver,’ the NFFO states.
‘We consider that the Secretary of State should resist pressures from devolved administrations and sectional interests and make a determination based on need not greed.’
The NFFO’s position is that additional quota should go, first and foremost, for use as currency in international exchanges to secure quota for where there is an acute shortage.
‘An obvious case is where those quota shortages will lead to chokes in mixed fisheries in 2021. The guiding principle should be that no group or vessel should be worse of as a result of the Brexit debacle. Any Brexit bonus for the lucky few should be a secondary consideration.’
An NFFO spokesman commented that the organisation has been a strong supporter of the FQA system since before such a standpoint has been fashionable.
‘FQAs brought stability, a means of matching available quota to capacity, and a sense of stewardship during a time of chaos. We stand by those views. Additional quota is different and should be treated according to the principles of equity, mutuality and fairness, not electoral or sectional pressures, or suchlike considerations.
If the NFFO is about anything, it is about mutuality. In common parlance, looking out for each other and strength in unity,’ the NFFO states.
‘The Secretary of State should follow the same precepts in making a determination on additional quota.’