92.Fishers told us they were not sufficiently informed about the landing obligation or what they would be required to do in order to comply with it. Graeme Searle told us: “Nobody really knows anything about it. I spoke to several fishermen in Plymouth the other day and no one has any idea.” Graham Doswell, a fisher from Eastbourne, agreed:
“I have spoken to fishermen in the south-east area, at the other end the country. I did not find one who knew about it; some were completely unaware of the landing obligation. They thought it had gone to sleep and been forgotten about. Others knew that it was in the air but really did not know what was going to happen.”
“People do not have a clue, even our fish buyer, who buys from 40 under 10-metre boats. I spoke to him yesterday. He had spoken to the local MMO [Marine Management Organisation] and asked for advice. He was told, ‘You had better look it up online; we don’t know’. Knowledge of what is actually going on is very sparse.”
93.The Coastal Producer Organisation blamed this uncertainty on the Government and on enforcement agencies: “The MMO and Defra have been poor at communicating about the landings obligation with most fishermen in England and with other key players in the industry such as merchants, markets and traders, all of whom could be directly affected by the landings obligation.”
“We have written to every single fisherman over the last three years to provide them with guidance … We are providing not just generic guidance but very specific guidance relating to gears, areas and fisheries. We have used social and digital media … We have been going around talking to the industry. We have had sessions tailored to specific fisheries in Whitehaven, North Shields, Poole, Plymouth and various offices … I do not think the job is done by far, but our approach to enforcement and implementation is to carry on with that education period … Our staff are ready and are aware of what they need to do.”
96.The Government should work with enforcement agencies and industry bodies to ensure effective communication with fishers continues throughout 2019, to give fishers the best possible chance of understanding what they need to do to comply.
125 Written evidence from the Coastal Producer Organisation ()