Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Arthur Cook, Bridlington Trawlers Ltd (T17)

  As a member of the NFFO Executive I have seen your letter requesting a progress report on the implementation of the Committee's recommendations.

  I am also the Chairman of the UK Federation of Fish Merchants and Processors, and I am not aware of a similar request to them and so, if I may, I have some points to make.

  The 1999 report made much of the lack of strategy for the future of the fishing industry and charged government with developing this objective.

  It was not until 13 April 2000 that it was discussed at the Ministers high level meeting with the Industry when it was resolved to invite organisations present to write to the Minister with proposals. (see FIF8/4)

  Organisations responded promptly and copied their papers to the Fisheries Forum who asked SFIA to produce a strategy based on these papers.

  In September 2000, Stephen Wentworth and Paul Brady asked to attend the Forum meeting for the strategy items. It soon became clear that MAFF had made no progress whatsoever beyond reading cursorily the papers submitted. S. Wentworth was the spokesman, he was negative and unenthusiastic. He thought that MAFF's normal evolutionary growth would provide the strategy.

  I disagreed, and he went on to advise the Forum how to produce the strategy making clear that it should not ask for money as none was available. It was obvious to me that he was not going to take up the charge that you had given him. The Forum accepted the challenge and persuaded SFIA to give it priority for publication end January 2001.

  This timetable was achieved and you should have received a copy.

  Requests for a high level meeting with Ministers was made shortly after publication, but other pressures have precluded this.

  Notwithstanding, processors particularly in Scotland are in terminal decline because of lack of resource and disaster is looming large throughout the Industry.

  The strategy should hold the key to every aspect of Industry renewal and must be taken seriously.

  I have other points to make if requested but I am mindful of your request to NFFO of a response by 1 May.

2 May 2001

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