“Public resources should be allocated to those who fish the most sustainably”

Experiences from local co-management and the economic advantages of selective gear were discussed at the Green seminar “How should fish be caught” in the European Parliament 12 April.

Powerpoint slides and video below.

Employment gains from MSY and selective gear
If 43 European fish stocks were rebuilt to MSY levels, the additional revenues could support 100,000 new jobs. This finding, from a recently released report, was presented by environmental economist Rupert Crilly at the seminar.

Rupert Crilly further argued that it matters what gear is used. A study that compared trawlers and gillnets in the North Sea showed that gillnets have the largest net benefit to society with regards to employment, CO2 emissions, costs of subsidies and other factors – but that this is not reflected in how fishing opportunities are allocated today.

“Public resources should be allocated to those who fish the most sustainably,” Rupert Crilly said and added that society has a choice: do we want more people employed and less efficient gears or do we want more efficient gears and fewer people employed in the fishing sector?

Long-line fishing disadvantaged
This message was supported by French fisher Anne-Marie Vergez, who told the audience about her use of long line fishing to catch hake in the waters near St-Jean de Luz – a method that has virtually no bycatch and where the catch is usually of a higher quality than the fish caught by trawlers.

Because of price competition from the large industrial trawlers, Anne-Marie Vergez said that she and other small-scale fishers were under a lot of pressure.

“It feels like the policy today is geared towards the owners of large industrial ships, who get the biggest quotas despite being the ones that cause most damage to the fish stocks,” Anne-Marie Vergez said.

Multi-national spatial planning
Before allocating fishing rights, managers need to have an accurate knowledge of the sea and all the activities there. Marine scientist David Goldsborough talked about the experiences of a pilot project on cross-border marine spatial planning in the Dogger Bank, which is a large sandbank shared by four member states.

“This was unchartered waters. Noone really knew how cross-border marine spatial planning works,” David Goldsborough said. The Dogger Bank project showed that regional co-management with all stakeholders is realistic and can work, if the adequate data and resources are provided, David Goldsborough said.

How to get compliance with management plans
Once there is an inventory of the resource and a fisheries management plan – the trick is to get the management plan to work. Marine scientist Sarah Kraak presented the concept of Real time incentives (RTIs) as a way of getting better compliance with management plans. With RTIs, it will cost fishers different amounts of ‘credits’ to fish in different areas, depending on for example the risk of unwanted bycatch.

RTIs allow fishers to fish wherever and whenever they want, and the costs of fishing in areas with high bycatch is internalized in the business and have to be paid by the fishers instead of by society.

Experiences of local co-management
Axel Wenblad, former Swedish fisheries chief, spoke about experiences from several Swedish projects of local co-management. In general, co-management works better in smaller communities where there is stronger social control. In order to get local co-management to work, there needs to be a bottom-up approach with some pressure from above, Axel Wenblad said.

Download the Powerpoint presentations:
David Goldsborough (PDF version)
Rupert Crilly (PDF version)
Sarah Kraak (PDF version)
Axel Wenblad

Watch the video of the conference: www.greenmediabox.eu/archive/2012/04/12/fish/

External links:
Jobs lost at sea (nef)
Value slipping through the net (nef)
More information about the Dogger Bank pilot project can be found through MASPNOSE and NSRAC.
Website of Anne-Marie Vergez & Video of Anne-Marie Vergez

Axel Naver

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