2. Delivering confidence and accountability
Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM)
There was strong support from stakeholders around the issue of our fishing fleet being accountable, although different views on how this could be best achieved. Within the discussion paper we highlighted the importance of having confidence in our fleet and our fishing products, and also the importance of addressing some major compliance issues, particularly around the landing obligation. We discussed how using REM would contribute to these objectives, as well as to improve our knowledge and evidence base in the longer term.
There was a divergence of views on REM among stakeholders. However, it is our view that it offers a valuable opportunity for delivering the confidence and accountability that we need for a world-class fisheries management system, provided it is introduced in a proportionate way and is applied on an equivalence basis to vessels fishing within Scottish waters.
To support this, we will continue with our voluntary deployment programme of REM for scallop vessels through to summer 2021, and will introduce formal legislation by the end of 2021 to make this mandatory. We will introduce legislation for pelagic vessels fishing within our waters on the same timescale and will also consider options for larger whitefish and Nephrops vessels as part of developing policy on future catching activity. We acknowledge that the wider issues around the landing obligation need to be addressed as part of this in order to ensure that vessels can comply with the rules that are in place.
For smaller inshore vessels, stakeholders were generally supportive of increased vessel tracking and pointed to the need for data to inform decision making, particularly around marine planning. We will continue to progress this work through our Inshore Modernisation Programme. Proportionate, low cost vessel tracking technology is being tested through our Inshore Fisheries Pilot Programme. Learning from this will inform national deployment of tracking technology across the inshore fleet, planned to commence in 2021.
Future Catching Policy
On Future Catching Policy there was widespread acknowledgement from stakeholders that there are significant issues with the current discard ban which need to be addressed, although responses were split between a complete overhaul of the system and better enforcement of the current rules and regulations. There was support for measures to address unwanted catch, including increased selectivity and spatial measures. There was also support for making better use of technology, both in avoiding unwanted bycatch and monitoring catch. There was some support for offering incentives e.g. quota to increase sustainability.
We will now take all of this into account as we work up proposals for a new Future Catching Policy. We will consult fully on those proposals early 2021.
Simplification of technical and spatial measures
We agree with stakeholders that many of the technical and spatial rules which are in place to manage our fisheries are in need of simplification. This is not an easy task, and whilst it isn't a short term priority, given the complexity and resource involved, in the longer term it is something we want to take forward. We will use the Future Catching Policy to explore ways, and deliver initial initiatives, to improve the development and implementation of spatial and technical conservation measures through a co-management approach. We will use lessons from this approach to consider how we can make further improvements in the longer term.