Section 3 – analysis of responses
Option 1: Track Record (history of landings)
Summary of Proposal
The first option presented was allocation based on vessels' historic track record. The proposal provided that the share of Additional Quota a vessel would receive for any stock, would be based on the vessel's recorded landings of that stock during a specified period.
Basing the allocation of Additional Quota on the track record of vessels over a recent period would direct allocations to vessels which have targeted those quota species in the specified time period. This would take account of in-year quota adaptations, i.e. where vessel owners have acquired quota through trading with another owner (quota exchanges, direct leasing).
Allocating Additional Quota on the basis of the track record of active, Scottish-administered vessels has the potential to reduce costs for these active fishing businesses, as they would receive the Additional Quota directly, which would reduce the requirement to pay for quota from other businesses which do not make productive (i.e. catch) use of the quota. It would also take into consideration the capacity and capability of vessels to fish for the relevant species.
The use of a track record-based approach could, however, be viewed as not recognising those vessels which have been unable to access quota stocks in the past and were therefore unable to build a track record due to barriers, such as lease costs or other barriers.
Responses to question 1 – What are your views on the use of recent track record as a basis for allocating Additional Quota in 2021?
Overview of responses
- 65 responses expressed some view on the use of historic track record as a basis for allocating quota.
- Of the 65 responses to this question:
- Twenty one responses gave clear, or qualified, support in their responses that track record should be a basis for allocating Additional Quota in 2021.
- Twenty nine responses expressed opposition to the use of track record as a basis, or the sole basis, for allocating Additional Quota.
- Fifteen responses were unclear as to their position. Included in this category are responses which stated that this method was; potentially suitable for one sector but not another; expressed that reference periods were not appropriate but did not state support or opposition in their response to the question; or expressed views in relation to another option.
- Groups which offered supportive views included: Scottish Fishermen's Organisation and West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation.
- Groups which offered views in opposition, or which expressed a preference for another mechanism, included: Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT), the Scottish Whitefish Producers Association and Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Analysis of Responses
Analysis of supportive themes
Two clear themes emerged in support of historic track record as a means for allocating Additional Quota. Firstly, that track record would target the active fishing industry - with vessels that have a proven record of having caught the stock directly allocated quota. Secondly, that allocating via this mechanism may help to reduce leasing costs associated with having to acquire fishing opportunities through trade of quota. These two themes were often associated in responses.
From a section of respondents, there was support for the use of historic track record for the demersal fleet, as opposed to the pelagic fleet. Other issues raised were that the use of track record for allocating fishing opportunities is an established one and that it may offset issues arising from the Landing Obligation.
These themes from responses shall now be explored in greater detail:
I. Targeting the active catching sector
A recurring theme in supportive responses was that the use of historic track record would benefit active fishers. Associated with this view were responses which stated that the use of track record would reflect the quantity of the species captured by these vessels (where quantity allocated for particular species would vary depending on previous quantity caught).
"For 2021 there are simplistic arguments for using FQA's to allocate additional fish, (known/ease of allocation etc, one year only). However, this will only deliver quota to current FQA holders, not all of which are active... Therefore, OFPO are of the opinion that Track Record should be the method utilised to allocate any extra quo…" [Orkney Fish Producers Organisation - Extract]
"Any additional quota should be allocated to working vessels. And by using the track record method any additional fish will go to the vessels who are catching the most of the different species."[Bremner Fishing Company LTD]
II. Reduce leasing costs
Often very closely associated with I. (Targeting the catching sector), was the view that allocation based on track record would reduce costs to active fishing vessels. This is due to the fact that those fishers that wish to acquire more quota for which they have insufficient, or no, quota are often compelled to pay for the fishing opportunity, thereby reducing their profitability.
This theme of potentially reducing costs is present in the following quotes. To note, a 'slipper skipper' refers to an individual not directly involved in the capture of fish but who has access to quota, which is then sold for commercial financial gain on an annual basis, engendering a rentier economy. Throughout many responses to the consultation, there was strong opposition to individuals, or businesses, not directly associated with the fishing industry being allocated Additional Quota – this was particularly evident from individual respondents.
"I would like to see some of the additional quota distributed on recent track record. I would also be in favour of some being top sliced to allow a new entrants scheme and also some given to the 10m and under sector. What I wouldn't like to see is additional quota based on FQA holdings. Slipper Skippers as I call them have to be eradicated somehow. [Individual Respondent]
"Industry is also looking to address the high leasing costs, this method should go some way to achieve that objective…"[NESFO ltd - Extract]
III. Other issues raised
A number of respondents indicated that this option would or could be appropriate for the demersal sector but not the pelagic sector (a theme explored below). Several respondents stated that track record had been used previously for the allocation of fishing opportunities and therefore was well established and understood as a method of allocation. Also, referenced was that the use of track record may offset issues arising from the Landing Obligation.
Analysis of opposing themes
As with supportive themes, points raised in opposition to allocation via historic track record were often interlinked. The most prevalent view was that those without track record would see no benefit. A significant number also stated that the pelagic quota should not be allocated on the basis of track record. Other responses stated that the use of historic track record would not be consistent with government aims and criteria. Some individuals and organisations indicated concern that the use of track record would disadvantage those not able to develop a track record over the period (as a result of being unable to fish (due to vessel maintenance etc.) rather than not holding fishing opportunity); an alternative mechanism should be used; and that this method was too complex for 2021.
I. No benefit for those with no track record
A recurrent theme against an allocation on track record was that those fishers who were unable to develop a track record as a result of not holding fishing opportunity or very little fishing opportunity (especially inshore vessels) would see no benefit from this system.
In analysing consultation responses, it is important to be aware that it is generally the case that inshore vessels in Scotland target shellfish (including Nephrops). Whilst Nephrops are a quota species, other key shellfish stocks are not covered by a Total Allowable Catch, and therefore have no quota limits. As a result, the potential for inshore vessels to achieve a track record for Additional Quota for stocks, other than Nephrops, has been limited.
It should also be noted that in analysing responses we have sought to distinguish between those vessels which have been limited in their capacity to develop a track record, because of limited access to sea fisheries quota (largely, but not only, non-sector vessels), and those vessels with fishing opportunity which have been limited in time at sea (due to vessel replacement; repairs to vessel etc.) This second group is dealt with in a following section below.
"SIFT believes that track record should not be used as a basis for allocating additional quota... Using track record to allocate quota fails to do so and merely extends the shortcomings of the existing quota allocation system. These shortcomings include the barrier it presents to new entrants, and the pressure it puts on less well capitalised fishers to target, and over exploit, non-quota stocks."[Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust - Extract]
"I do not agree with allocating additional 2021 quota on track record. those with the most quota just now will end up with even more. The quota needs to find them that most need it the most and who can start to try new fisheries to make a living."[Individual Response]
II. Pelagic sector should be treated separately
A number of responses stated that the pelagic sector should be treated separately in relation to the allocation of Additional Quota. Some respondents indicated that track record should or could be used for other fisheries sectors (cited was the demersal sector).
It was often stated that pelagic quota should be distributed evenly amongst existing participants. Various reasons were given (including the high number of vessels that had been replaced in the pelagic sector during the reference period). The Shetland Fishermen's Producer Association advocated the allocation of pelagic quota equally between eligible vessels:
"…The use of recent track record would on the face of it appear to be the most relevant means of attributing this additional fishing opportunity to those groups representing the active fishing fleet.
However, in the case of the pelagic sector the SFPO would advocate an alternative view which would see the allocation of an equal share of any additional quota being gained apportioned to existing participants in the fishery on a per vessel basis, or on established licence criteria where any existing participant may be in the process of changing their vessel…" [Shetland Fishermen's Producer Organisation - Extract]
III. Consistency with government objectives
Though inherent in many responses citing opposition to the use of track record, some respondents explicitly questioned whether it was consistent with the government's aim for the utilisation of quota and/or consistent with the Fisheries Act. This was particularly the case in many responses from environmental organisations, as demonstrated by the answer below from Open Seas. However, the view that track record would not maximise environmental, social and economic returns was also present in responses from individuals and other organisations, though it may not have been expressly stated in these terms.
"With regards to using track record as a basis for allocating Additional Quota, we do not support this approach. We do not consider it to be a criteria which adequately incorporates environmental, social and economic factors and it therefore appears to be inconsistent with 25(1) and (3) of the UK Fisheries Act 2020." [Open Seas]
"I do not agree with this as a basis for allocating additional quota because it makes the rich fishermen richer and restricts new entrants and growth/diversification within the industry" [Individual Respondent]
IV. Acquired new vessel recently / Limited opportunity to acquire track record
A number of responses were either opposed to the use of historic track record on the basis of having limited opportunity to develop a track record (those who had recently acquired a vessel or who had been unable to fish for a period of time). And therefore quota should be allocated via a different mechanism. This was particularly raised in relation to the pelagic sector but also raised by representatives of the wider industry.
Other issues raised included:
- Due to pressures (time constraint; outcome of TCA) other options may be preferable for 2021 (allocation based on FQA units).
- The complexities of the quota system where active fishers have had to trade away a fishing opportunity for another. Fishers would not be able to realise Additional Quota on quota swapped away.
- Additional Quota should be based on zonal attachment in line with the UK's approach in EU Exit negotiations.
Responses to question 2 – Do you think the track record period should be 2015-2019 (Marine Scotland's preferred option)?
Forty-eight respondents offered comments in relation to question 2. Of these responses:
- 13 stated their support for this period.
- 22 stated their opposition.
- 13 responded with comments that did not indicate a preference for, or against, the reference period but which set out alternate views. For example: that they were not supportive of track record; that alternate arrangements other than track record should be used and/or that this was their second preference of the three time periods offered.
Analysis of supportive responses
Where respondents offered a rationale in support of question 2, it was largely to state that the time period offered a reasonable time period on which to reflect vessel activity.
"We agree that the track record period should be 2015 - 2019 as it would better reflect recent fishing activity and would provide a buffer for vessels that had suffered major breakdowns for long periods during the reference period…"[Western Isles Fishermen's Association - Extract]
"Having considered the three periods suggested, I would agree that the five year period would be the most appropriate period of time to allocate Additional Quota." [Heather Fishing Co LTD.]
Analysis of opposing responses
Where respondents offered reasons for their opposition to the proposal several themes emerged:
1. That a more recent reference period should be utilised. With some calling for 2020 to be included in the calculation or that 2015 should not be include:
"No. We think it should include 2020 so that would be either 2016-2020 or 2018-2020 depending on whether a 3 year or 5 year reference period is preferred.
We believe that 2020 should not be excluded. It shows the most accurate activity. Yes we had Covid, but uptakes of main species are very high, showing a fully exploited fishery in main stocks." [Peter & J Johnstone Ltd.]
2. That a longer track record period should be used to allow for activity over a longer reference period to be reflected
Question 3 – Do you think the track record period should be 2017-2019?
Forty-six respondents offered some comments in relation to question 3. Of these responses:
- 9 stated support this this period.
- 25 stated their opposition.
- 12 responded with comments that did not indicate a preference for, or against, the reference period but which set out alternate views. For example, that they were not supportive of historic track record: that alternate arrangements, other than track record, should be used or that we should refer to another answers.
Analysis of supportive responses
Where respondents offered rationale for their support for the proposal, the clear reasoning was that it reflected the most recent trends in fishing activity.
"The SFPO would propose a track record based on the years 2017-2019, this being the time frame providing the clearest reflection of recent fishing trends and that which best reflects our quota needs for 2021."[Shetland PO]
Analysis of opposing responses
Where opponents offered a view, the clear issue was that the time period was too short and would not take account of vessels being replaced or where vessels were inactive for a period
"The three year period was used back in 1999 (1994-1996) to allocate quota to FQA units.
It was found that quite a number of boats lost out due to breakdowns, or having sold their boat and waiting on a new build, and various other tie ups. So it was found that the three year period was not a fair reflection on many boats as it was too short a period."[Heather Fishing Co LTD.]
Again it was stated that the year 2020 should be included in the reference period (in line with quote above in response to question 2).
Question 4 – Do you think the track record period should be 2013-2019?
Forty-eight respondents offered some comments in relation to question 4. Of these responses:
- 9 stated support to this period.
- 22 stated their opposition.
- 17 responded with comments that did not indicate a preference for, or against, the reference period but which set out other views. For example, that they were not supportive of track record, that alternate arrangements, other than track record, should be used, that we should refer to another
Analysis of supportive responses
Where additional comments were provided, those advocating a longer time period stated that it would fairer on those vessels which had not been able to fish for a period.
"Could possibly agree to this period. Would be fairer if vessels had long tie ups for repairs or for inactive periods for new builds etc." [Individual Respondent]
Analysis of opposing responses
Where additional comments were provided, those opposed to this period stated that it would fail to take account of the significant changes within the fishing industry.
My view on having an eight year period is that it would throw up as many problems as a three year period would, with quite a number of vessel changes in this period. It is difficult to decide what period would reflect the fairest outcome, but I would opt for the five year period as being moderate and fairest.[Heather Fishing Company Ltd.]
No. It is too old in terms of relevance to current stakeholder fishing activity. [Peter & J Johnstone Ltd.]
Summary of views
In terms of popularity amongst respondents, the use of track record neither gained the popularity of allocation to the non-sector or the opposition of allocating via FQA units. A significant proportion of respondents did not fit well into either of these categories (for example, a number stated that this option should/could be used for demersal fisheries but was not suitable for the pelagic sector).
A key principle emerging from responses in support of the use of track record was that Additional Quota should be allocated to the active fishing industry as a whole and not individuals/businesses (who were seen as one step removed from the catching sector). This was often linked with a clear desire to reduce leasing costs for the catching sector (where active fishers exchange money to receive desired quota). In terms of the practical application of the system, comments were also made that this system of allocation was well established and understood by the fishing sector.
Those opposed to the use of track record recurrently stated that opportunities would be limited to a select group of vessels. In many instances this was linked to reduced potential for diversification, wider socio-economic benefit and reduced environmental impact, with questions over alignment with aims and criteria. In addition to this opposition on the basis of principle, there were issues raised about speed of use in 2021 and how vessels which had been replaced during the reference period would be dealt with.
For questions 2-4, which sought views on the track record period, similar numbers backed the three available options, though there was greater support for the proposed 5 year period. Proponents of the five year option felt it struck a balance between issues identified with the alternate periods - a seven year period would not take account of recent changes in industry; whilst the 3 year period would be too short and would be more impacted by a period of inactivity. There were some calls for 2020 to be included in the reference period to take account of the most recent period of activity.
Option 2: Allocating Additional Quota to Non-Sector Vessels
Summary of proposal
The second allocation option explored was the distribution of a portion of Additional Quota to non-sector vessels. Non-sector vessels are vessels which operate outside a Fish Producer Organisation or a Scottish Quota Management Group (so-called Sectoral Groups). They are (i) Scottish registered vessels in the 10 metre and under pool; and (ii) Scottish registered vessels in the over 10 metre pool. The vessels from these two pools primarily target shellfish though opportunities for some demersal and pelagic species are available too.
The consultation document set out that Marine Scotland could retain a proportion of the Additional Quota, for certain stocks, in 2021 and work with the fishing industry to allocate these fishing opportunities to non-sector vessels meeting certain criteria. The proposed criteria are:
- Capacity and capability to catch the quota in 2021.
- Availability of market for the catch of Additional Quota when landed.
- The allocation of Additional Quota to the non-sector vessel would incentivise good practice (for example a reduced environmental impact through method of capture (such as through the use of lines)).
- Ability for the non-sector vessel to diversify their fishery.
The consultation noted that the allocation of a relatively small amount of quota to the 10 metre and under sector helps to increase the number of fishers able to benefit from the fishing opportunities. However, it may be case that that vessels may not have the necessary equipment, knowledge or inclination to fish for alternative stocks
Responses to Question 5 - What are your views on retaining a proportion of Additional Quota for allocation to non-sector vessels subject to the proposed criteria?
Overview of responses
- 67 responses expressed some view on retaining a proportion of Additional Quota for allocation to the non-sector.
- Groups which offered supportive views included: Western Isles Fishermen's Association; Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT); Blue Marine Foundation; The Scottish Wildlife Trust
- Groups which offered views in opposition included: Open Seas and Peter & J Johnstone Ltd.
- Of the 67 responses to this question:
- Forty three gave clear or qualified support in their responses that Additional Quota should be allocated to the non-sector.
- Twenty one responses expressed opposition to the allocation of Additional Quota to the non-sector.
- Three responses did not fit clearly in either category. Included in these was one response which stated that all fishermen should be in an association; another which called to give all under 10 vessels the same allocation and a response that stated that all quota should be utilised.
Analysis of responses
Analysis of supportive themes
A number of factors in support of the allocation of Additional Quota to non-sector vessels were cited. Most prevalent were: that non-sector vessels should derive benefit from Additional Quota; that it would allow for the potential to diversify from traditional target stocks; and this would extend the economic benefit from Additional Quota. Other views stated that this was the preferred option of the three available and that allocation in this manner would retain a greater degree of government control over the fishing opportunity.
These themes from responses shall now be explored in greater detail:
I. Non-sector vessels should benefit
Historically, quota opportunities for the non-sector pools have been limited with few vessels holding (or permitted to hold in the case of the 10mu Pool) FQA units and no opportunity to lease quota. Many responses stated that non-sector vessels should see a benefit arising from Additional Quota and that an allocation by the other proposed methods would not provide this benefit. Many responses questioned the fairness of allocating via the other options consulted upon. This is demonstrated in the extract from the Community of Arran Seabed Trust response and an individual respondent:
"Many non-sector vessels are those that have been historically disadvantaged by the existing quota allocation system..." [Community of Arran Seabed Trust - Extract]
Non Sector vessels have as much right to the fish as so called sector vessels who got the quota by joining a PO. Non sector vessels should be able to fish profitably as well. [Individual Respondent]
II. Allow for diversification/reduce pressure on target stocks
A recurrent, supportive theme was that allocating quota to the non-sector would allow for diversification of opportunity for this fleet segment – the potential to fish for a greater range of stocks. This was often linked explicitly with taking pressure off shellfish stocks.
"… We agree that quota allocation to non-sector fleet would be beneficial, creating more equitable access in the fleet and encourage diversification towards more environmentally diverse, economic and sustainable fisheries…"[Blue Marine Foundation - Extract]
…Additional quota should be allocated to both non- sector and under 10 metre vessels as there are clear indications that many vessels that have been fishing exclusively for shellfish would diversify on a seasonal basis to catch white fish quota species using selective methods for local markets at high prices…[Western Isles Fishermen's Association - Extract]
III. Allow for economic growth
Another theme, often linked to diversification of fishing opportunity, was the potential for economic benefit to be spread more widely via an allocation to the non-sector. This potential was cited in the response from The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Blue Marine Foundation and also the individual response below:
"In favour,helps local communities and might increase employment." [Individual Respondent]
IV. Preference for 2021 or relative to other options presented
A number of responses indicated that this option was supported on the basis that it was preferable to the other options available. It was clearly intimated, particularly by some supportive environmental groups, that alternate arrangements would be more desirable.
"This option offers opportunity for vessels 10 meters and under to diversify, which could reduce pressure on shellfish stocks and spread the economic benefits of fishing opportunities more widely... A more reliable way to ensure that the allocation of additional quota delivers social, economic and environmental benefits would be to allocate it based on specific environmental and social outcomes." [The National Trust for Scotland]
V. Other views expressed in support
- That Additional Quota should be allocated to the non-sector as a means of retaining direct government control over quota.
Analysis of opposing themes
There was strong support for the principle of allocating Additional Quota to non-sector vessels. Support though was not universal and even those who did support the proposal cited concern in relation to the proposal as was set-out in the consultation document. The most prevalent issues raised were: the capacity for non-sector vessels to catch additional opportunities and the closely-related concern over the existence of market opportunities. Other key recurring themes were: insufficient quota arising from Brexit deal/only allocate where there is a surplus of fishing opportunity in the sector; that the non-sector has received preferential treatment relative to sectoral vessels and a need for further consultation. Further issues raised, but with less frequency, included: safety concerns; policy is inconsistent with Government criteria and the need for a further effort cap for the fishery.
I. Need for vessels to be able to catch fish
Many respondents cautioned that non-sector vessels may not have the catching capacity to make use of Additional Quota. A number of reasons were suggested for this: absence of species from inshore waters; vessels not equipped for targeting new opportunities and lack of experience. In some cases, respondents cited examples where fishing opportunity allocated to the non-sector had not been utilised previously.
"We can only give a viewpoint from a pelagic perspective. There are already opportunities for under 10m to fish pelagic species but they have struggled in recent years. This is due to fish availability close to shore, seasonality and unpredictability of the fisheries.
Allocating additional quota to the non-sector vessels could be considered wasteful if the quota was not utilized." [Sunbeam Fishing Ltd]
II. Must be market opportunities for additional quota
Another negative factor associated with allocating Additional Quota to the non-sector was the concern over the existence for new or additional market capacity to accommodate what may be new fisheries for this fleet segment. This view was frequently associated with point I. (need for vessels to be able to catch fish) above.
"In principle each sector of the industry should benefit from any additional quota acquired, but they should prove that they are in a position to catch the quota and also have a market to land for human consumption. Any additional quota made available to the catching sector should be utilised to its fullest extent." [Individual Respondent]
"…Over provision of hook caught mackerel can and has led to marketing problems and in my opinion requires a fuller consultation and careful management." [Individual Respondent - Extract]
III. Additional Quota should only be allocated to the non-sector where surplus exists in the sector/not enough Additional Quota
A number of negative responses, particularly from groups with a membership which includes sectoral vessels, remarked that the allocation of Additional Quota should be focused on sectoral vessels in the first instance. Several responses stated that Additional Quota opportunities arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement were limited and should be focused on those already targeting these species.
"…There has to be some acknowledgment that with regard to demersal fisheries the situation in which we now find ourselves bears no resemblance to what we thought could be delivered…It would be inherently unfair to remove quota from larger vessels that have significantly less opportunities in some species to try and facilitate diversification in another. We accept that this may not always be the case, or not currently the case in all sectors such as pelagic, or in single species such as North Sea sole, lemon sole, witch and western tusk." [SWFPA and MNWFA - Extract]
"Had the amounts of AQ been greater than it looks like at present, this could have been a consideration for some AQ tonnage. But the amounts involved are small and the existing Sector fleet is desperately short of fishing opportunities." [Peter & J Johnstone Ltd.}
IV. Non-sector has been favoured
Some responses questioned the 'fairness' of allocating Additional Quota to non-sector vessels. Included in this category are responses which stated that; the non-sector has been favourably treated relative to sectoral vessels and; individuals who may have previously sold quota for profit should not benefit from access to Additional Quota in the non-sector. Issues over the 'fairness' of apportioning Additional Quota to the non-sector were raised particularly in responses from individual respondents opposed to allocation to this group of vessels.
"The non-sector vessels have received the largest share of additional quota over the years, having been in the industry as skipper / owner for 40 years i have received nothing additional." [Individual Respondent]
"These vessels have profited from being outside the system for many years and in some cases sold quota years ago but were able to remain fishing. They should be allocated on a track record basis with no favouritism given to them." [Individual Respondent]
Other noted issues included:
- Quota allocated to the non-sector and not utilised should be made available to sectoral vessels.
- A need for further consultation on the issue.
- Concerns that allocating to the non-sector was not in line with Government criteria for Additional Quota.
- Safety concerns, particularly concern about capacity for inshore vessels to safely handle species for which they are not experienced.
- Need to cap effort in the non-sector.
Analysis of Reponses to question 6 – Which quota stocks would, in your view, be most suitable to be allocated to non-sector vessels through this method and why?
A variety of stocks were proposed for allocation to the non-sector. The following table lists stocks where allocation was proposed in more than three separate responses and the key reason given. It should be noted that reasoning does not include responses where diversification/removing pressure from other stocks was given as a factor.
|Stock||No. of occurrences||Key Reasoning (if given)|
|Mackerel||26||Works for small vessels; able to use selective methods for high quality product; species found inshore; benefit to local communities; if caught by line there is a reduced environmental impact; hook and line fishery easily accessible to these vessels (in terms of re-gearing).|
|Cod||17||Can be caught by handline which has lower environmental impact; benefit to local communities; hook and line fishery easily accessible (in terms of re-gearing) to these vessels where the fish are present; presence in inshore waters.|
|Haddock||8||Presence in inshore waters.|
|Herring||7||Presence in inshore waters, a ring-net fishery required for 10mu sector.|
|Whiting||6||Presence in inshore waters.|
|Nephrops/prawns||6||Fleet traditionally targets nephrops|
|Monk||5||Presence in inshore waters, smaller vessels would be able to target|
Other issues raised
Some noteworthy points from responses to this section include:
- Other stocks raised included: ling; skates; blue fin tuna.
- Stocks which met the criteria listed should be allocated to the non-sector.
- There is a regional variation in the presence of stocks
- All species should be allocated to the non-sector.
- Opportunities should be allocated on the basis of scientific evidence/in conjunction with scientists and other stakeholders.
- Respondents proposed groups of species (shellfish, demersal or pelagic) without specifying species.
- That the market for handline mackerel could be negatively impacted by the allocation of Additional Quota.
Summary of views
The allocation of Additional Quota to the non-sector received the greatest degree of support of the three available options. There was a clear sense from supportive comments that allocating Additional Quota to the non-sector would enable a diversity of opportunity for inshore vessels and generate associated economic and social benefits. Many respondents also highlighted the potential environmental benefits through the use of fishing gear with a smaller environmental impact.
Those opposed or who expressed concern at the allocation of Additional Quota to the non-sector focused on whether non-sector vessels could catch additional opportunity for various reasons. This was often coupled with concerns over the existence of markets to accommodate the landings by this group. Many opposing responses also highlighted instances where government has made quota opportunities available to the non-sector but these have not been utilised.
In question six, we sought views on which stocks should be allocated to the non-sector. Most responses focused on those stocks for which there was already a demonstrable track record of catches and available market.
Option 3: Allocate via FQA units
Summary of proposal
The consultation's third option for allocation was to allocate based on shares of FQA unit holdings. As set out in the consultation document, Marine Scotland has stated its intention to allocate Additional Quota in a different way to the current system. However, we wished to hear views on potentially allocating in this manner for 2021.
Benefits to allocating Additional Quota via the FQA system for 2021 include that the system is well established, has allowed the industry to adapt over the past two decades and it would also reflect the investment made in FQA units.
Criticism of the FQA model is that it may not only benefit active fishers directly and the perceived imbalances of the current allocation system would persist. This method of allocation would also limit the potential for diversification of fishing opportunities or new entrants into a fishery due to costs associated with obtaining quota on the market.
Responses to Question 7 – What are your views on using FQA holdings as a basis for allocating Additional Quota for 2021?
Overview of responses
- 64 responses expressed views on using FQA holdings as a basis for the allocation of Additional Quota in 2021.
- Groups which offered supportive views included: Scottish Whitefish Producers Organisation, Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association; Peter & J Johnstone Ltd.
- Groups which offered views in opposition included: Scottish Fishermen's Organisation; Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust; National Trust for Scotland; Open Seas, West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation.
- Of the 64 responses to this question:
- Fourteen gave clear, or qualified, support in their responses that FQA holdings should be a/the basis for allocating Additional Quota in 2021.
- Forty-six responses expressed opposition to FQA holdings being a/the basis for allocating Additional Quota in 2021.
- Four responses fitted into neither category clearly. Included in this category was a response which called for the reference period on which FQA units were originally created to be updated. A second respondent stated that they weren't opposed to the proposition but did not offer support. Thirdly, a response from a vessel owner, who holds no FQA units, setting out the barriers to acquiring FQA units and the difficulties that arise as a result of not holding FQA units (this respondent asked for their response not be made public).
Analysis of Responses
Analysis of supportive themes
There were two consistent, often linked, themes in supportive responses for the allocation of Additional Quota via FQA units.
Firstly, that an allocation via FQA units would reflect quota holdings and investment in fishing opportunity. Secondly, that allocation via FQA units was the established, well understood system that offered certainty during a period of uncertainty, particularly, when Additional Quota opportunities were lower than had been expected.
Several supportive respondents suggested that an alternative arrangement where Additional Quota would only be allocated on the basis of FQA holdings associated with active vessels. A number of responses stated that pelagic vessels should be considered separately, and allocation based on a different methodology (a view explored elsewhere in this document).
I. Reflects quota holdings and investment
The most prevalent factor cited in support of the use of the FQA system was that it reflected holdings of quota and was often seen, by those with this viewpoint, as being a fair method of allocation. This is reflected in the following responses
"Those of is that already own quota should receive any increase. Those who don't own any quota are not entitled to any increase, how can their share increase when they done own anything in the first place?"[Individual Respondent]
"Any additional quota should be given back to the FQA holders as over the years the holdings have been cut year on year to a point any holdings are not worth having." [Individual Respondent]
II. Expected Additional Quota opportunities have not materialised/Need for certainty
To some, particularly organisations responding on behalf of sectoral vessels, the TCA has given rise to (i) lower than anticipated Additional Quota opportunities and (ii) general uncertainty. As a result government should consider allocating on the basis of FQA holdings.
"…The amount of 'additional fish' provided by Brexit falls well short of even the lowest expectation, which leaves a significant gap between the share of opportunities previously accessed and those now on offer (Albeit some minor additions may be possible in the upcoming bilateral negotiations). As such, it very much negates the driver behind a change in allocation, which to all intents was seen as the wider benefit from a windfall in the level of opportunities. Underlying uncertainty for the industry this year determines that government should avoid, where possible, adding to that uncertainty." [SWFPA and MNWFA}
Several respondents who were supportive of the principle of allocating Additional Quota in 2021 based on FQA holdings did stipulate that allocation should be given to active vessels only.
Analysis of opposing themes
The option of allocating via FQA holdings for 2021 drew the greatest degree of opposition of the three presented. Although it should be noted that some opponents saw close alignment between an allocation based on track record and an allocation based on FQA holdings (suggesting that a 'privileged' group would acquire these additional fishing opportunities and the possibility of diversification would be limited)
Different themes were often interwoven through answers, however, the most prevalent theme was that allocating via FQA holdings would give individuals, or entities, one step removed from the active fleet a share of quota and they would then be able to sell this opportunity for commercial gains; which was seen as inappropriate. Another key theme which arose, was that an allocation via FQA unit holdings would result in the consolidation of fishing opportunities, or erode the traditional, family-owned nature of many parts of the industry. Another recurring view was opposition to the use of the FQA system as a method of distributing any quota. Other issues raised included: that use of FQAs would reward overfishing; disagreement that alternative distribution mechanisms would be complex and that different sectors should be treated differently.
I. Giving to quota traders/not giving to active fleet
The clearest theme cited in opposition to allocation based on FQA units was that this would allocate quota to quota traders/those not actively fishing. Strong opposition on this basis was particularly clear in many individual responses but was present in a range of responses.
Definitely against this system. Any extra quota should only go to the catching fleet only. We personally have spent a fortune hiring fish from slipper skippers in the last 10-15 years. [Individual Respondent]
…Against this background it is vital that both Marine Scotland and Defra implement an allocation mechanism that helps to reduce costs and increase benefits to the active fishing fleet in Scotland as much as possible – recent track record will do that while FQA will effectively maintain the status quo.[Scottish Fishermen's Organisation - Extract]
II. Result in industry consolidation/eroding family owned business
Another clear theme in opposition to an allocation via FQA units was that this would result in industry consolidation and erode the traditional, family-owned nature of the industry. This was a view that was particularly prevalent in individual responses.
"This has the effect of widening the gap between the boats which are relatively well off with quota and the boats which maybe struggling to make a living through quota shortage. This creates larger companies which buy up the licences and this leads to less boats and jobs and has a bad affect on coastal towns."[Individual Respondent]
"Negative - the people with the most FQAs have indeed invested heavily in them and should not be penalised but hoarding fishing opportunity is to the detriment of the fleet and industry as a whole. If additional quota allocation is based on present FQA holdings that will unnaturally inflate a market which should not exist in the first place, and ensure that only the rich get richer, consolidating more quota in fewer hands" [Individual Respondent]
III. Not consistent with Government objectives/inconsistency with criteria
Similar to some responses to the use of track record (option 1), opposition to an allocation based on FQA units was intimated in many responses, on the view that it was not consistent with government objectives. Environmental organisations were generally explicit, in their view, that this approach was not consistent with government objectives but other sectors also questioned this option's alignment with objectives and criteria:
"It is the view of the Trust that Option 3 does not align with the overarching principle of sustainability in the SFMS (2020-2030), and will not support "equality of opportunity for fishing opportunity", nor allow "new entrants and small family owned businesses to grow and contribute to the long-term economic growth of the Scottish fishing industry". [Scottish Wildlife Trust]
"…this will only deliver quota to current FQA holders, not all of which are active, and maintain the status quo that those heavily in favour of will no doubt argue should be maintained from 2022 onward. This also does not deliver on the pledge to reduce costs to the fleet" [WSFPO - Extract]
IV. Opposition to the FQA system
A number of respondents stated that allocation via FQA units would, in their view, repeat historical mistakes. As noted separately, there was strong opposition to the use of FQA units as a means for distributing any quota. However, some respondents explicitly stated this in responses
"I totally disagree with allocating additional quota based upon FQA holdings. The FQA system is fundamentally flawed…" [RHIFA - Extract]
"FQAs should be scrapped, they are a big part of the problem" [Individual Respondent]
V. Other issues raised
Other factors present in responses opposed to an allocation based on FQA units included:
- It would reward overfishing
- Disagreement that allocation via other mechanism other than FQA units would be complex and time-consuming.
- Vessels from different sectors should to be considered separately, for example with distribution being equal between participating vessels in different groups.
Summary of views
Of the three alternative options presented in this consultation, and for utilisation in 2021, an allocation based on FQA holdings drew the least support and the greatest degree of opposition.
Where support was present in responses this focused on the facts that allocating via this mechanism would reflect FQA holdings/investments that had been made and that this system of allocation was established and provided a ready platform for 2021.
In terms of opposition recurrent was that this option would see quota allocated to individuals and businesses a step removed from the active industry and not help reduce business costs. As with option 1, views were expressed that the use of FQA units would limit benefits to a restricted group with the consequence that this would result in limited potential for diversification, wider socio-economic benefit and reduced environmental impact
Other Allocation Options
The focus of the consultation document was to gain views on the three identified options for the allocation of Additional Quota in 2021. However, we also invited views on alternate options for the allocation of Additional Quota in question eight particularly with a view to inform future arrangements.
Responses to question 8 – What are your views on alternate options for allocating Additional Quota?
In question eight, we sought responses from consultees on potential alternate methods for distributing Additional Quota. Many responses restated their views on the three options or reiterated calls for pelagic quota to be treated separately (particularly that pelagic quota should be distributed equally between applicable vessels).
The table below sets out alternative arrangements suggested which have not been explored elsewhere in this document.
|Proposal||Summary of Reasoning (if given)|
|Community quota scheme / local quota initiatives / inclusion of IFGs||Better economic linkages from resource; can facilitate new entrants into the industry; would be of significant benefit to coastal communities; positive work of FLAG could be used for allocation of community quota;|
|Quota distributed following applications to government.||Applications could be submitted to Marine Scotland and quota awarded on alignment with criteria. Government could incentivise good practice (e.g. reduced environmental impact; socio-economic benefits). Could be used to facilitate a new entrant's scheme.|
|Link to landing into Scotland.||Economic benefit shared with the wider sector Scottish Economy and coastal communities.|
|Distribute Additional Quota equally between active vessels||Reward active fishermen and limit for non-active.|
There was a strong level of support for the establishment of community quota schemes where fishing opportunities could be allocated in a way that best suited local requirements, though calls for transparency and due process to be at the centre of any regional management of the resource.
Responses from environmental organisations, and some individual respondents, indicated support for government allocating Additional Quota in response to proposals from industry. Environmental organisations in particular saw this as a means to incentivise/reward particular behaviours, especially behaviour with a reduced environmental impact. Individual respondents tended to focus on this method as being one which would allow for new entrants.
Amongst other proposals were:
- Additional Quota should be distributed based on vessel and or engine size.
- Additional Quota should be leased out by the Scottish Government.
- Additional Quota should be used as a means of dealing with the landings obligation.
- Creation of new licences – to allow for new entrants into fisheries.
Summary of views
There was strong interest in alternative mechanisms for allocating quota as can be seen in the table above, these proposals will be explored ahead of further consultation on this issue for future years.
Other Issues Highlighted in Responses
Duration of consultation
Comments were made with regards to the duration of the consultation, we apologise for the shortened nature of the consultation this was due to the delay in the signing of the TCA and the need to be in a position to allocate quota apportioned to Scotland from the UK share.
Views on the FQA system
This consultation sought views on the methodology for allocating Additional Quota only, it did not seek views on the allocation methodology for Existing Quota, which the Scottish Government has stated will continue to be allocated on the basis of the FQA system.
However, many respondents set out their support, or opposition, for the continued use of the FQA system for the allocation of Existing Quota.
In particular, some respondents outlined their strongly-held views in opposition to the use of FQA units as an allocation tool. This was pronounced in responses from environmental/conservation organisations, which advocate for a change in allocation policy as a way to deliver environmental/socio-economic change but was also present in other responses.
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