Examination of witnesses
(Questions 200 - 208)
TUESDAY 12 JANUARY 1999
JOHN H GOODLAD
and MR HAMISH
200. The POs are being given more responsibility
to manage fisheries. Is this a trend that you welcome? Is it an
area where you feel you can expand the role of the PO in managing
stock? What would that mean in terms of power and resources for
(Mr Goodlad) It is something which could be developed
and I think that is something which the Federation Committee is
looking at just now. We have problems with quota trading at present,
whereby outside speculators can come in and quota can be sold
out of the UK. By holding quota in producer organisations, by
perhaps limiting quota trading to producer organisations, that
kind of thing may put an extra level of defence in keeping British
quota to be caught by British fishermen. I think that is something
201. Would you prefer to see more emphasis
on technical measures rather than control of quotas, mesh sizes,
closed areas, etc?
(Mr Smith) We have had almost a three year, ongoing
review of technical measures and it has been very difficult to
get an agreement. One of the difficulties with this is that we
are dealing with technical measures from the Bay of Biscay right
up to the Shetland Islands and beyond. The same regulations apply
to vessels of ten metres as apply to vessels of 70 metres. Clearly,
with the difference in power and things like that, what someone
can live with as far as mesh size is concerned, for instance,
for a small vessel there was a move to go up to 110 millimetres.
The fact of the matter is that the largest of our vessels actually
uses in excess of 110 millimetres but when you get the smaller
vessels under, say, 300 horsepower or so, they would find it impossible
to make a living with that. Ideally, you would think, "Let's
increase the mesh size and this will let the immature fish get
away and the stocks will recover." I wish that were the case
but sadly it is not.
202. To take up a point about inspection
in Scotland, which is carried out by the executive agency whilst
in England and Wales it is MAFF and the Royal Navy, what do you
think very briefly, are the chief advantages and disadvantages
of the Scottish system?
(Mr Morrison) The point was made earlier that the
way you stop over quota fishing is by having sensible quota management.
In fact, the enforcement situation is really treating symptoms.
The game is over by the time the enforcement people arrive. Fish
are dead. I think it is very important to bear that in mind. Getting
at the cause of the problem is far more important. If, for example,
you took the investment currently planned in satellite monitoring
and designated ports and, by some magic, reapplied that to devising
a quota system that was stable and predictable, you would achieve
a great deal more than all the enforcement in the picture because,
as Alec Smith has already said, last year's very good performance
in eradicating black fish had very little to do with the enforcement
agency. It had to do with a stable, well managed fishery.
203. I appreciate what you are saying but
what are the main advantages and disadvantages between the two
(Mr Smith) I do not know if they are so much different.
I know the Royal Navy plays a much larger part in southern waters
than it does in the north. We have no gripes with the control,
other than that we felt that the designated landing ports were
unnecessary. The main gripe we have is the old adage about an
unlevel playing field. It is almost like going up the motorway
and there is a 30 mile limit on; you stick to the 30 miles but
every car passes you doing 60 and you feel aggrieved because nobody
is enforcing it. The same applies with our fishermen. We are quite
happy to stick by the rules providing everybody else is doing
it, but we know of cases, particularly on the west coast, where
the Spanish flood vessels work, where we know the quota that they
have and you could not run a 40 foot vessel with that, but it
is still enforcement.
(Mr Goodlad) We have no strong views whatsoever between
the Scottish Office and MAFF.
204. Coming to the matter of devolution
and the setting up of a Scottish parliament, do you see further
differences likely to emerge in the regulatory and enforcement
systems following the setting up of a Scottish parliament?
(Mr Morrison) I certainly hope so.
(Mr Morrison) When we came, at the end of last year,
to the fisheries debate, I think it brought home to us very clearly
how little regard is paid in our terms to a very important industry.
I do not know how long it is since the last time your Committee
looked at fisheries matters.
206. It was in the last Parliament.
(Mr Morrison) In Scottish terms, it is something that
is very important for Scotland and we are certainly hopeful that
a Scottish parliament will pay far more attention than does Westminster.
207. Are there any specific ideas or suggestions
on what you actually mean by that?
(Mr Goodlad) The immediate and most obvious example
refers back to the Andrew George's question on management of the
inshore fishery within six miles. It would be in the direct control
of the Scottish parliament what measures are introduced within
six miles in terms of inshore management. That is a very big area.
Do we do regulating orders? Do we do sea fisheries committees?
How much are fishermen involved both on a regional basis or a
Scottish basis? Those are all the kinds of things which can be
looked at. The point Hamish was making, which I entirely agree
with, is that we in the industry certainly hope that there will
be much more time to have a much more informed and more regular
debate in the Scottish parliament than has clearly been the case
(Mr Smith) It is very much a wait and see situation
as far as we are concerned. It is difficult to understand how
the Scottish parliament is going to work. Areas where I certainly
hope that there might be differentials are that the Scottish parliament
might see the importance of the fishing industry to Scotland both
onshore and off and might go about helping to renew the fleet.
They might have powers to access European funding. That is something
that we are not here to debate.
208. I presume also by looking for a new
Scottish law on a seal cull?
(Mr Goodlad) If you think that we are calling for
a seal cull, you are totally and utterly mistaken. No one this
side ever said that. We tried to highlight the problem with seals
and to ask your Committeeand it will be the first committee
of politicians ever to do it that I know of if you doto
try and address that we have a serious problem, but we did not
propose a seal cull.
Chairman: I think you have left the problem
with us very neatly. I do not know what Mr Curry thinks but we
probably get proportionally more debates on fishing in British
Parliament than we do on farming. There is a debate this week
on fisheries. Gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. There were
a number of issues that we did not address with you that we had
hoped to address with you. We are out of time. We do thank you
for coming. We hope we will see some or all of you again on our
visit north of the border later on. There are issues that have
not been addressed so perhaps we may put some of those in writing
to flesh out the memorandum. It would be helpful if we could have
an exchange of correspondence on those. Thank you very much indeed
for the spirit in which you answered our questions. We are very