Chapter 7: Quota allocation and management for inshore (10 metres and under) fishing
7.1 This chapter is about quota allocation and management for inshore (10 metres and under) vessels fishing in the Scottish 10mu 'pool'.
7.2 This issue is considered separately because fishing by vessels 10mu that are not in a PO have since 1999 been subject to a different allocation and management regime. The landings of vessels that are not PO members (known as the 'non-sector' in the case of over 10 metre vessels and the "10 metre and under" (10mu) fleet) are managed directly by the Scottish Government.
7.3 The Scottish 10mu fleet, fishing inshore waters, encompasses a hugely diverse group of vessels, which together make an important contribution to the social and economic health of many coastal communities.
7.4 Despite this diversity, these vessels are, under present arrangements, managed in a generally uniform fashion. They fish against catch limits set by the Government, which may be weekly, monthly or quarterly. These limits are fixed having regard to a total amount of quota (the "10mu pool") determined by the Scottish Government and with the general aim of facilitating, wherever possible, either a full year or seasonal fishery in the quota stocks of interest (mainly Nephrops and mackerel). Seasonal fisheries are opened and closed following consultation between Marine Scotland quota managers, and local fishing representatives (including Inshore Fisheries Groups), with the broad objective of timing fisheries so as to maximise the value of the catch.
7.5 Licences of over 10 metre non-sector vessels may have FQA units attached to their licences, whereas 10mu licences do not. But neither group may "fish against" any individual allocation of quota.
Consideration of change
7.6 The current pool system has its attractions. Although a somewhat artificial barrier, it is well-established and understood by fishermen. The arrangements enable the Scottish Government to manage fishing opportunities for inshore vessels directly in consultation with relevant interests and in a broadly cost effective fashion. Providing uniform catch limits for all appropriately licensed 10mu vessels also maintains an important access point - with relatively low entry costs - into fishing for many new businesses. On the other hand, current arrangements have been criticised because they do not have flexibility to address either local needs, nor do they provide obvious routes by which 10mu vessels can build their businesses.
7.7 The Concordat does therefore provide an opportunity for the Scottish Government to consider how these arrangements might be improved to better pursue the Government's policy objectives, and in particular to consider how national quota management arrangements can be adapted to support the developing network of Inshore Fisheries Groups ( IFGs) and the delivery of Fisheries Management Plans. Moves have been taken in this direction already, with the development of local allocations in the inshore mackerel fishery, which in some cases were managed locally ( i.e. without catch limits in licences).
7.8 The Scottish Government would be open to developing the detail of potential management options with IFGs and others that might allow for wider operation of local quota pools. It would be important in such developments to ensure that any additional administrative burden (whether locally or in the Government) was proportionate to the advantages secured, and that there existed strong support locally for these developments. IFGs will also wish to consider the implications of taking on a fisheries management function, whether informally or conceivably through the delegation of a Ministerial function.
7.9 The Government would also be interested in views about means by which there could be greater integration between the 10mu and PO sectors, and indeed whether those interested consider that there should continue to exist a divide within quota allocation and management. This issue was raised and options considered in the 2008 consultation, and the Government remains open to the consideration of options for change. The Government offers two possibilities for reform:
- First, it would be possible to adapt quota management arrangements so as to permit 10mu vessel owners to lease quota from POs, and thereby increase the catching opportunities for their vessel. At the moment, 10mu vessels cannot individually access additional quota to supplement their allocations. An approach on these lines (which might necessitate a system of individual vessel management) may help to improve viability and business flexibility, although concerns were expressed during the previous consultation that it may encourage an increase in effort in inshore waters; and,
- A second approach to improve integration would be to introduce an exit scheme whereby under 10mu vessels that wish to join POs might be permitted to take a "track record" (of FQAs or some other proxy) based on recent landings with them, thereby making the move into the sector more feasible. Such an approach could be attractive for those larger vessels reliant on quota species; help encourage inshore fishing businesses to develop and reduce administrative burdens; and, leave community pool arrangements focussed on smaller vessels targeting mainly non-quota species or perhaps fishing part-time.
7.10 The Government would be interested in alternative or additional proposals for improvements. One further alternative, discussed in the independent research on quota allocation commissioned by the Government, would be to integrate the 10mu (and non-sector) fleet into the present FQA system. It is an option to remove the present national pool altogether and allocate FQA units to individual vessel licences. It has been argued that an approach on these lines would enable fishing rights to be allocated to many individual vessel owners, and provide opportunities for some small family businesses to develop and grow. The 2008 consultation considered this option but ruled it out on the grounds that it would encourage a concentration in the holding of quota; result in the permanent loss of quota from some fishing communities; and, increase the cost of entry.
- Do you favour retention of the present national 10mu pool, with periodic catch limits established in vessel licences, as the principal basis of allocation for Scottish quotas for 10mu vessels not in the membership of POs?
- In relation to allocations to the 10mu fleet, do you support the idea that the Government should develop the wider operation of local quota pools? If you do, what organisation(s) might be best placed to manage these pools?
- Do you wish in general for the Government to develop measures that encourages greater integration between the 10mu and PO sectors?
- Do you favour allowing 10mu vessels to lease quota from POs?
- Do you favour the introduction of an exit scheme whereby under 10mu vessels that wish to join POs might be permitted take a track record (of FQAs) based on recent landings?
- Do you favour allocating FQAs to individual 10mu vessel licences, and abandoning the pool system?
- What other improvements do you favour in relation to the allocation of quota to 10mu vessels?