Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Elliot Morley MP, Minister for Fisheries and the Countryside, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  At its meeting on 9 December Sub-Committee D considered your explanatory memorandum on this proposal, which you helpfully submitted before the proposal itself was available. The Committee appreciates your efforts to keep the House informed of what is going on, but is, is every year, deeply disappointed that the Commission is unable to present the annual package of fisheries proposals in sufficient time to allow scrutiny by national parliaments. I intend to return to the late submission of proposals and explanatory memoranda at a later date.

  The Committee found the additional information contained in this year's memorandum most helpful: the inclusion of the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management (ACFM) was particularly useful. The Committee would be grateful for clarification on two issues.

  Firstly, why are several of the Commission's proposed TACs higher than those recommended by the ACFM? (In particular, why does the Commission's proposal set much higher TACs for (i) Herring Vb, VIaN, VIb; (ii) Mackerel IIa (nonEC), Vb, VI, VII, VIIIabde, XII, XIV; (iii) Horse mackerel Vb, VI, VII, VIIa, b, d, e, XII, XIV?)

  Secondly, does the UK fishing industry support the Commission's proposals, which are likely to result in several quotas being set at a lower level than last year? Did fishing organisations make any proposals of their own and, if they did, what were they?

  Needless to say, the Committee expects to be informed of the outcome of the Fisheries Council on 17-18 December.

14 December 1998

Letter from Elliot Morley MP, Minister for Fisheries and the Countryside, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 14 December about the proposal for 1999 fish total allowable catches (TACs) which was discussed at the Fisheries Council held in Brussels on 17-18 December 1998. I represented the United Kingdom at the Council, together with Lord Sewel and Lord Dubs.

  The Council agreed unanimously, with Italy abstaining, the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas to apply in 1999 in Community waters. Details for the final TACs are attached. In some cases, there are significant reductions compared with 1998; in other cases, the final figures are higher than the Commission's proposals of the 1998 TACs; in all cases, the UK sought a balance between the need to be cautious in the management of stocks for their long term benefit and the need to take account of the practical realities for fishermen and short-term socio-economic pressures on them. At the end of the negotiations, the total UK quotas agreed were some 57,000 tonnes higher in cod equivalent terms than the quotas being discussed at the start of the negotiations. This increase is worth some £30 million to the industry, although overall there has been a net year-on-year reduction in fishing opportunities in order to conserve stocks for the future. I invoked Hague Preference on all the stocks where it was necessary to do so.

  A particularly welcome part of the package was the securing of additional quota to catch haddock in the Irish Sea, reflecting the upsurge of fish in this area. As a result of close co-operation with the Irish Republic, we secured an additional 2,400 tonnes of quota for UK Irish Sea fishermen which will be especially beneficial in Northern Ireland.

  We were also very pleased to secure as part of the package the separation of the small Shetland coastal sandeel fishery from the North Sea sandeel TAC and helpful Commission statements on two UK initiatives: a Commission commitment to propose the introduction of a new TAC for dogfish and a commitment to respond to concern about the effects of sandeel fishing on birds and other wildlife.

  Separately from the main TACs package, the council agreed by qualified majority, with Italy and Greece opposed, 1999 TACs for bluefin tuna and swordfish. These retain small unallocated quotas to cover incidental by-catches by the UK and other northern countries.

  The Council agreed unanimously to eighteen regulations covering 1999 international fisheries arrangements: between the Community and Norway, Faroes, Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Russia; and under the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. These all reflected negotiations completed in the previous weeks and, in cases where the UK has a direct interest, safeguarded that interest.

  Following the substantial progress made at its last meeting, the Council unanimously adopted a regulation amending fisheries control and enforcement rules. These will strengthen control arrangements throughout the fisheries sector in line with UK objectives, including more effective monitoring of Third Country vessels, improved transparency of enforcement activity, increased co-operation among Member States and reinforcement of the UK's national rules on designated ports.

  The Council agreed by qualified majority, with Belgium, France and Spain voting against, some limited amendments to 1998 autonomous tariff quotas and tariff suspensions for 1999. These measures help to maintain the competitiveness of the processing industry by giving them access, at reduced rates of duty, to raw material that Community fisherman cannot supply.

  Finally, you asked two specific questions about the Commission's proposal for 1999 TACs.

  In a number of cases, the Commission proposed higher TACs than seemed to be implied by the ACFM advice. The ACFM advice is, however, open to interpretation and the figures included in the Government's Explanatory Memorandum represented the interpretation of the Ministry's agency, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). The Commission's interpretation might have been different, In any event, the Commission can take account of other factors in framing its proposal, such as the socio-economic consequences for fisherman. In addition, some of the TACs are jointly managed with Norway whose views also needed to be taken into account.

  Representatives of the industry put their views to John Sewel and me shortly before the Council. They did not support large cuts in quotas but did recognise the case for a cautious approach, and I was encouraged to see the Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fisherman's Organisations reported after the Council as describing the negotiation as "a successful exercise against a background of very extreme proposals".

11 January 1999


1999 TACS
Stock1998 TAC
1999 TAC
Sandeels IIa, IV1,000,000 1,000,0000
Herring I, II1,300,000 1,300,0000
Herring IVa,b          229,000240,0005
Herring IVc, VIId           25,00025,0000
Herring Vb, VIaN, VIb80,370 68,000-15
Herring VIa (Clyde)1,000 1,0000
Herring VIIa9,0006,600 -27
Herring VIIe, f1,000 1,0000
Herring VIIg-k22,200 21,000-5
Herring IIa, IV Ind. by-catch22,000 30,00036
Cod IIa, IV140,000132,400 -5
Cod Vb, VI, XII, XIV11,000 11,8007
Cod VIIa7,1005,500 -23
Cod VIIb-k, VIII, IX, X20,000 19,000-5
Megrim IIa, IV3,000 3,0000
Megrim Vb, VI, XII, XIV4,840 4,8400
Megrim VII22,40022,400 0
Dab & Flounder IIa, IV30,070 30,0700
Anglers IIa, IV22,070 22,0700
Anglers Vb, VI, XII, XIV8,600 8,6000
Anglers VII26,67026,670 0
Haddock IIa, IV115,000 88,550-23
Haddock Vb, VI, XII, XIV25,700 19,000-26
Haddock VII, VIII, IX, X20,000 22,00010
Haddock VIIa05,000 -
Whiting IIa, IV60,000 44,000-27
Whiting Vb, VI, XII, XIV9,000 6,300-30
Whiting VIIa5,0004,400 -12
Whiting VIIb-k27,000 25,000-7
Hake IIa, IV2,0701,930 -7
Hake Vb, VI, VII, XII, XIV33,160 30,910-7
Lemon sole & witch IIa, IV12,000 12,0000
Blue whiting IIa NS90,000 90,0000
Nephrops IIa, IV15,200 15,2000
Nephrops Vb, VI12,600 12,6000
Nephrops VII23,00023,000 0
Plaice IIa, IV87,000 102,00017
Plaice Vb, VI, XII, XIV2,400 2,4000
Plaice VIIa2,4002,400 0
Plaice VIId,e5,7007,400 30
Plaice VIIf,g1,100900 -18
Plaice VIIh,j,k1,350 1,3500
Pollack Vb, VI, XII, XIV1,100 1,1000
Pollack VII17,00017,000 0
Saithe IIa, IIIb,c,d, IV97,000 110,00013
Saithe Vb, VI, XII, XIV10,900 7,500-31
Saithe VII, VIII, IX, X8,800 8,8000

Stock1998 TAC
1999 TAC
Turbot & brill IIa, IV9,000 9,0000
Skates & rays IIa, IV6,060 6,0600
Mackerel IIa(EC), III, IV62,455 62,4550
Mackerel IIa (nonEC), Vb, VI, VII, VIIIabde, XII, XIV 422,160422,1600
Sole II, IV19,10022,000 15
Sole Vb, VI, XII, XIV155 1550
Sole VIIa900900 0
Sole VIId5,2304,700 -10
Sole VIIe670700 4
Sole VIIf,g850960 13
Sole VIIh,j,k720720 0
Sprat IIa, IV150,000 175,00017
Sprat VIId,e12,00012,000 0
Horse mackerel IIa, IV60,000 60,0000
Horse mackerel Vb, VI, VII, VIIIa,b,d,e, XII, XIV

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