Future fisheries management: policy intent paper

Our response to the future fisheries management discussion paper and the stakeholder responses which were received as part of that discussion.

1. Strategic Framework

This document sets out the Scottish Government's response to the Future Fisheries Management Discussion Paper and the stakeholder responses which were received as part of that discussion.

We intend to publish a Strategy for Scotland's Sea Fisheries before the end of 2020 which will set out our overall approach to:

  • High level outcomes
  • Meeting international commitments and achieving international targets
  • International approach
  • Governance and co-management
  • Domestic fisheries management
  • Communications and engagement
  • Transparency and decision making
  • Ecosystem-based approach
  • Approach to tackling climate change
  • Seeking to address the challenges of shared marine space

The strategy will also set out a number of overarching policy goals. Our aim is for all policy development to fit clearly into our overarching framework, with a clear and transparent decision-making process linked firmly to the outcomes we are trying to achieve, with identifiable timelines. Where appropriate, the strategy will also set out how we will achieve the high level objectives contained within the UK Fisheries Bill and use the legislative powers provided for within that Bill.

High Level Principles, Outcomes and Approach

We share the aspirations of stakeholders in relation to managing our fisheries in a responsible and sustainable way. Stakeholders have indicated they want to see a strong focus on sustainability within our overall strategy and in relation to individual policies. Given the widespread support from stakeholders for the high level principles and outcomes we set out in the discussion paper, these will be further refined and will feature as a key part of our strategy.

We agree with stakeholders that there needs to be a clearer understanding as to what we are trying to achieve through our policies and we will work harder at supporting stakeholders to understand how our strategic aims will be delivered in practice.

There has been a clear steer from stakeholders around the issue of environmental sustainability and the need to respect biodiversity and take an ecosystem-based approach to management in our future strategy. Stakeholders have also recognised that we need to be better at explaining how we do this in practice, rather than talking in the abstract. Within our strategy, we will set out our commitment to taking an ecosystem-based approach to management and how this will work in practice, in particular making a clearer link between fisheries and wider marine planning decisions. This will complement our broader approach to developing an action plan for the Blue Economy.

As part of wider environmental considerations, there was strong support from stakeholders for making marine littering a specific offence, as well as strong support for identifying a suitable legislative vehicle. Following the completion of the discussion paper, there is now new legislation in place. The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2020, subject to certain exceptions, make it an offence for UK vessels and other vessels within UK waters or UK controlled waters (other than vessels engaged on certain military matters or vessels owned or operated by a State and used on government non-commercial service), regardless of their size, to litter. This is a welcome development and one which we support.

Governance, engagement and decision making

We received positive feedback on our approach to communications and co-management, although respondents also identified that there was room for some improvement in some areas. We will therefore set out in the strategy how we will seek to improve transparency around decision-making, and how we will strengthen co-management, so that our management continues to be inclusive and stakeholders are properly engaged in the decisions which affect them. We will set out how we want to engage and communicate with our stakeholders with a clear steer on governance, roles and responsibilities. We will also expect our stakeholders to similarly act in a transparent and accountable way.

We will also explore how we can make better use of technology to seek feedback, and improve engagement with often hard to reach stakeholders, for example active skippers.

Our international approach

Within the discussion paper we made it clear that we will continue to meet international commitments, and will also act as a responsible partner both in a UK and international context when seeking to raise standards in our fisheries and seeking for others to do the same. This commitment will shape our international approach and will form a key part of our future strategy. In meeting our international obligations we will learn from best practice around the world, and will also seek to share our own best practice, and where possible and relevant we will pursue alignment with policy outcomes with our European neighbours.

In the responses to the discussion paper there was broad support from stakeholders for our approach that Scotland, as the biggest partner in fisheries in the UK, should be leading in international negotiations where we have the critical interest in relation to stocks that are predominantly present in Scottish waters and in relation to access to Scottish waters by foreign vessels. There was also a consistent theme raised about ensuring compliance with regulations and that this should apply to all vessels, regardless of nationality, in our waters.

We will set out how we will become a world leading fisheries nation, including how we intend to work in future with all administrations in the UK, and also outline our approach to international engagement and negotiations in the strategy, including our overarching principles for future negotiations and our values. In particular, we will set out how we intend to maintain good relationships with the EU and other European coastal states, particularly in coordinating research and allowing for joint management of stocks around our coast. We will ensure equivalence of management measures regardless of nationality. We will continue to use our position as a constructive and respected partner internationally to influence policy in Europe and elsewhere to meet our overall aims.


Email: ffm@gov.scot

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