Examination of witness

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:01 pm on 6th December 2018.

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Griffin Carpenter:

There are two different types of potential reallocation: one from European fishers to UK fishers, including the small scale, and the question whether we change those distributions in the UK share. The principle is the same: can the small scale benefit from having additional fishing opportunities, however those come? Our research has shown that there is a desire for fishers.

There is some confusion because small-scale boats often target shellfish. They are not fishing a lot of quota right now; they are catching crab, lobster, cuttlefish and anything they can get their hands on. Nephrops are subject to quota. People say, “They don’t have quota so they don’t need quota,” but if you speak to them, they say, “If we had it, we would love to use it,” because a lot of small-scale fisheries are mixed—they will do something for one season and then switch to quota species if they have it.

There is also a problem with new entrants, which overlaps a bit. You heard earlier that, traditionally, the route into fisheries for young people—fewer are entering at the moment—is through shellfish, because it is so hard to get your hands on quota. You might be able to buy a fishing licence, but buying a quota is too much. Having some quota set aside for small scale, and the overlap of small scale and new entrants—young fishers—is a huge opportunity.

There is a sustainability point, too. There is increasing pressure on shellfish stocks and we do not have good stock assessments on those. Some of the warning lights are coming up now: we are getting lower catch per unit effort, which means that where you do not have stock assessment, that is the warning light. If there is too much pressure on shellfish, what will these guys do? They need some quota to release the pressure on shellfish stocks such as crab or scallops, so they have another seasonable fishery.