Thursday 30 July 2015
Statement from the Commerce & Employment Department
The Commerce and Employment Department has learned that the Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), George Eustice MP, has taken the decision to suspend the Fisheries Management Agreement (FMA) between the UK and the Bailiwick and to suspend the reciprocal UK licences held by Bailiwick vessels with effect from 1 August 2015.
The Commerce and Employment Department is surprised and shocked at the short notice and lack of consultation that the UK Fishing Minister has given prior to suspending the FMA and the reciprocal licences.
The Commerce and Employment Minister, Deputy Kevin Stewart said: "This decision by the Minister of State has come out of the blue. Commerce and Employment is working with the fishing industry to ensure that its interests are robustly represented, at the same time as continuing to protect Bailiwick waters as a sustainable fishery. We are actively considering every option we have in order to do that."
Commerce and Employment is proactively seeking advice on the actions it may wish to take in response to this. The Sea Fisheries team is engaging directly with Bailiwick fishermen and has now contacted all those who may be imminently and adversely affected. A briefing for the Bailiwick wide fishing industry is also being organised for next week.
This decision does not prevent any Bailiwick licenced fishermen from continuing to fish as normal in Bailiwick waters in accordance with the existing conditions on their licences, but does prevent Bailiwick vessels that currently hold a UK reciprocal licence from being able to fish in EU, including UK, waters.
The UK Fisheries Minister has explained that this action is being taken in response to the States of Guernsey's policy to not to apply UK quota controls to Bailiwick vessels in Bailiwick waters in accordance with the FMA.
- Bailiwick fishermen are not the subject of quota controls, a position that was negotiated during the establishment of the terms of the Fisheries Management Agreement prior to the coming into force of the Sea Fisheries licensing Law in 2013 and was set out in the States' reports at the time.
- The FMA sets out the principles of how the Bailiwick manages its waters and was signed in 2011. The Bailiwick has always stated that it did not wish to implement TAC and quotas as a tool to manage its waters, instead opting for a technical management based approach.
- This approach was endorsed by the States of Guernsey, the States of Alderney and the Sark Chief Pleas as well as the Bailiwick fishing industry and is fundamental to ensuring that the Bailiwick's fishing communities can continue to fish sustainably and profitably.
- Total Allowable Catches (TAC) or quota, form part of the European Commission's (the Commission) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and are catch limits that are set for certain commercial fish stocks.
- The Bailiwick of Guernsey is not an EU Member State and therefore does not receive any portion of the Member State allocation. Catch data from all commercial fishing vessels, for species which are subject to quota, are reported to the UK. The UK then deducts this from the UK's quota allocation under the Common Fisheries Policy
- If quota controls were implemented, Bailiwick fishermen would be heavily restricted on the amounts of fish that can be caught. This would lead to many fishing businesses becoming unviable. The current policy balances conservation interest in the Bailiwick fishery with sustainability for the Bailiwick industry in Bailiwick waters.