Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Sixth Report

2The Strategy Unit's report

Current situation and challenges

12. The SU report concluded that although the fishing industry is "not an industry facing inevitable decline", it does face several key challenges which need to be addressed in order for the industry to be profitable and sustainable in the long-term future. [9] The challenges are:

·ensuring conditions exist for the UK fishing industry to compete effectively in EU and global markets for fish products

·rationalising and modernising the whitefish sector on a long-run sustainable basis, while ensuring stock recovery is successful

·maintaining sustainable and profitable fishing opportunities for remote and dependent communities

·providing a clear framework for balancing the different uses of the marine environment and preserving long-run ecosystem integrity

·ensuring management systems create the correct incentives to supply accurate information and produce a high level of compliance

·reforming UK and EU management systems to ensure long-run sustainability, including the prevention of 'boom and bust' cycles. [10]

13. The SU report put forward a proposed package of reforms designed to meet these challenges and warned that if action is not taken soon and new measures not adopted, the consequences could be disastrous, with a minimum reduction in discounted revenues of between £350 million and £600 million and employment losses of around 50%.[11] In a worst-case scenario, some fishing communities in the UK could lose all fishing activity.[12]


14. The SU report included 33 recommendations on how government departments and stakeholders could meet the current challenges facing the fishing industry. They can be classified under six general headings:

·creating a competitive and profitable UK fleet

·improving UK and EU information and compliance

·decentralising and modernising UK fisheries management

·progressively regionalising EU management under the CFP

·setting clear social objectives in fisheries policy, and

·integrating the needs of the fishing industry with other uses of the marine environment.

Response to publication of the report

15. The response of the fishing industry and other interested and affected parties to the SU report was generally positive. Most were supportive of the report's aims and acknowledged it as a genuine attempt to address the various challenges facing the industry. Nevertheless, some recommendations attracted strong criticism. The most sensitive issue by far was the recommended 13% decommissioning of the whitefish fleet and the additional 30% tie-up of the fleet. Other contentious issues included the introduction of individual transferable quotas and progressive cost-recovery of management costs.

Our approach to the Strategy Unit report

16. Our report does not address all 33 of the recommendations in the SU report. We focus on those recommendations of a more sensitive and controversial nature, which naturally tend to be those with the greatest potential effect on the industry and about which opinion was most divided.

17. Overall we are supportive of the general thrust and aims of the Strategy Unit report, although we do have reservations about specific recommendations. It is a well-considered, thoughtful and informed report that attempts to address the issues facing the fishing industry in a constructive and practical manner. We are greatly encouraged by its starting point—that the UK fishing industry is not in inevitable decline and has a potentially bright future. We agree with the report's conclusion that urgent action is needed if this potential is to be realised.

9   Net Benefits: A sustainable and profitable future for UK fishing, p.4 Back

10   Ibid. p.28 Back

11   Ibid. p.58-59 Back

12   Ibid. p.79 Back

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