Documents considered by the Committee on 24 January 2018 Contents

8Fisheries Discard Plans

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny (decision reported on 29/11/2017); drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Document details

(a) Commission Delegated Regulation of 20 October 2017 establishing a discard plan for certain demersal and deep sea fisheries in North-Western waters for the year 2018; (b) Commission Delegated Regulation of 20 October 2017 establishing a discard plan for certain demersal and deep sea fisheries in the North Sea and in Union waters of ICES division IIa for the year 2018.

Legal base

Articles 15(6), 18(1) and (3) of Regulation (EU) 1380/2013

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Numbers

(a) (39160), 13591/17 + ADD 1, C(17) 6990; (b) (39176), 13730/17 + ADD 1, C(17) 6997

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

8.1As part of the 2013 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) it was agreed to phase in a landing obligation on stocks subject to quotas in order to end the practice of discarding fish. Implementation of the discard ban was foreseen through either regional multiannual plans or a series of regional discard plans drawn up by the Member States concerned as “joint recommendations”. This is an example of the regionalised approach to decision-making under the reformed CFP, whereby rules are more tailored to the needs of the specific sea area than was previously the case.

8.2These two documents concern the discard plans for the demersal99 and deep sea fisheries of the North Sea (North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Kattegat and Skagerrak) and North Western Waters (West of Scotland, Irish Sea, English Channel and Celtic Sea) for 2018. The demersal landing obligation in both areas is subject to a phased introduction between 1 January 2016 and 1 January 2019.

8.3At its meeting of 29 November 2017, the Committee welcomed the regional approach to decision-making being applied to implement the landing obligation. The Committee raised questions regarding: stakeholder engagement; involvement of the relevant Advisory Councils; appetite for post-Brexit UK engagement in the Advisory Councils; and the extent to which the discard plans address the phenomenon of “choke species”.

8.4The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice) has responded. The details of his response are set out below. In summary, he confirms close engagement with stakeholders and with the relevant Advisory Councils. He is committed to a close working relationship with the EU on the management of shared stocks post-Brexit. The Government will continue to work closely with stakeholders on the development of fishing policy. As regards choke species, the most challenging fisheries in that regard will be introduced into the landing obligation in 2019. The UK is committed to working within the regional groups and with the European Commission over the next year to develop solutions that address the risks faced in UK fisheries.

8.5Fisheries stakeholders currently have a number of different ways of influencing policy. As the Minister notes, they can work directly with the UK Government and the devolved administrations, but they also have the possibility of engaging with the relevant Advisory Councils, which bring the fishing industry and environmental NGOs together to come up with fisheries management proposals. While we do not take the matter of stakeholder involvement further at this stage, the only commitment made by the Minister is to continue to work closely with stakeholders. He does not suggest that the Government will also advocate continued UK stakeholder involvement in the Advisory Councils, or perhaps the development of similar fora post-Brexit. We highlight our interest in this matter and will monitor it both as negotiations progress and in the context of our scrutiny of other documents. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Full details of the documents

(a) Commission Delegated Regulation of 20 October 2017 establishing a discard plan for certain demersal and deep sea fisheries in North-Western waters for the year 2018: (39160), 13591/17 + ADD 1, C(17) 6990; (b) Commission Delegated Regulation of 20 October 2017 establishing a discard plan for certain demersal and deep sea fisheries in the North Sea and in Union waters of ICES division IIa for the year 2018: (39176), 13730/17 + ADD 1, C(17) 6997.

Background

8.6The discard plans set out:

8.7While presented as Commission Regulations, they are based on Joint Recommendations prepared by the concerned Member States. Further details were set out in our Report of 29 November 2017.100

8.8At its meeting of 29 November 2017, the Committee raised the following issues with the Government:

The Minister’s letter of 18 December 2017

8.9On stakeholder engagement, the Minister confirms that this was conducted both through regional group discussions with the Advisory Councils and through direct discussions with UK fishing industry representatives. Both regional groupings of Member States were rigorous, says the Minister, in formally requesting written advice from the Advisory Councils on what the scope and level of ambition of the 2018 discard plans should be. The Advisory Councils were also invited to attend most of the regional group meetings held throughout 2017. In parallel, UK Government officials held meetings with fishing industry representatives in London and York while the Devolved Administrations conducted their own engagement with their respective fishing industries. Environmental organisations also submitted their views which were carefully considered alongside the contributions they made to the Advisory Councils’ advice. The Minister indicates that all of this engagement was “invaluable” in informing the UK’s position within the regional groups and in ensuring that the 2018 discard plans made meaningful progress towards the full implementation of the landing obligation in 2019.

8.10Concerning the future of regional cooperation after the UK’s departure from the EU, the Minister re-affirms the Government’s commitment to continuing a close working relationship with the EU on the management of shared stocks. The Government will also continue to work closely with UK industry and environmental organisations on the development of fishing policy.

8.11Regarding the extent to which the agreed 2018 discard plans address the issue of “choke species”, the Minister says:

“[It] was clear from the regional group discussions that all Member States wanted to balance progression of the landing obligation with limiting the likelihood of choke occurring. With the additional fisheries introduced in 2018 there is some potential for choke, but the regional groups anticipate that quota trading between Member States will mitigate this risk. The most challenging fisheries will be introduced in 2019 and the UK is committed to working within the regional groups and with the European Commission over the next year to develop solutions that address the risks faced in UK fisheries.”

Previous Committee Reports

Third Report HC 301–iii (2017–19), chapter 28 (29 November 2017).


99 The demersal species concerned are largely flatfish (such as sole, plaice and flounder) and whitefish (such as cod, hake, haddock and whiting). Norway lobster (scampi) are also included.

100 Third Report HC 301–iii (2017–19), chapter 28 (29 November 2017).




29 January 2018