In a recent news story, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) expressed their view that zero TACs have no place in fisheries management except in a single species fishery in urgent need of dramatic remedial action.
Focussing on spurdog and porbeagle the NFFO feel that the purpose of zero TACs for them seems to be about creating the illusion of dealing with a problem, rather than putting in place steps that would lead to a workable solution, to which they propose a 5 stage approach:
- Remove the zero TAC; it is achieving nothing.
- Replace the zero TAC with a by-catch provision that will allow vessels to land what they catch but dissuade any vessel owner from thinking about targeting the species again.
- Use the data collected from these landings in an enhanced data programme to improve the prospects of defining a solution.
- Identify a solution or solutions:
- Gear design to aid escape (this is tricky but if a turtle escape hatch can be successfully designed, a solution by skippers working with gear technologists may be just around the corner)
- Spatial/ temporal avoidance: With enhanced data, It may be possible to identify areas and seasons in which aggregations of these species occur, providing the basis for real time closures or equivalent
- New technologies may provide an answer either through alarms which dissuade these particular species from entering the gear, or which provide skippers with the ability to spot and avoid aggregations or even single fish
- The integration of these species into a comprehensive ecosystem fisheries plan. Continuous monitoring and adaption of the plan, to take into account new data available from the fleets
It is however hard to accept that a by-catch provision would actually achieve much – all that would happen is that a number of fish would be landed for sale, and after that any caught would be discarded.
Perhaps the better idea would be to move directly to Option 4.