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British Ports Association calls for bold vision from ministers ahead of New Year Fisheries Bill

UK Fishing Ports Call for Bold Vision from Ministers Ahead of New Year Fisheries Bill

  • British Ports Association publishes new research revealing post-Brexit challenges and opportunities for UK fishing ports
  • Domestic successor to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund critical to transition
  • Landings vital to strengthening the ‘economic link’ between UK resources and UK communities
  • Government agencies must support ports by sharing landings data in real time
  • Fisheries White Paper expected in the new year with a Bill soon after

Ahead of the publication of the Government’s expected proposals for a new fisheries regime, UK fishing ports have called on Ministers to introduce a new system that supports both their transition and long-term future.

The British Ports Association’s (BPA) Fishing Ports Group says that the continuation of a domestic successor scheme to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is essential for the industry and in the longer term, a stronger economic link in fishing licenses to ensure that fishing ports continue to be economically viable.
The British Ports Association’s Fishing Ports Group have published the results of internal research done with the industry, finding:
Encouraging more landings into the UK is vital for the sustainability of fishing communities

  • 40% of fishing ports say that income from fish landings needs to rise if they are to remain competitive. Many fishing ports ‘cross-subsidise’ their fisheries operations with income from other cargo, e.g. bulk cargoes. Some ports have been known to turn away fishing vessels to make quay space available for more lucrative cargo vessels (although this is not common)
  • Two thirds of fishing ports’ working quays are in need maintenance or repair work either right now or in the near future. Some smaller harbours struggle with costs running into millions of pounds
  • 75% of markets/auctions are in need of some modest or significant repairs or upgrades… BUT 80% of ports with a market or auction on site are upgrading or expanding in the next 5 years
  • The EMFF is a vital source of investment for fishing ports
  • 72% of ports rely on EMFF to fund expansion of new services and facilities. 94% have used it in the past to fund expansion
  • One third of fishing ports with a market and/or auction struggle to accommodate current landings. One-third have significant scope to accommodate more, with the final third somewhere in between

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is the funding element of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Whilst the UK fishing industry has declined in many areas under the CFP, the EMFF is intended to support diversification and innovation, but the funding has often been limited by caps and match-funding requirements. UK Fishing Ports say that a domestic continuation scheme is essential to support harbours that have lost out under the CFP.

Many fishing ports believe that there is significant scope for an uplift in fishing quota. In some smaller harbours, fish landings alone are not currently enough to keep the port competitive in the long term, with maintenance and repairs to infrastructure can run into millions of pounds.

Mark Simmonds, Policy Manager at the British Ports Association, said:

“Fishing ports are generally optimistic about the future outside the EU – it is now down to Ministers to deliver a bold and imaginative plan for our fisheries that supports ports as a critical link in the supply chain from sea to plate.”

“This research underlines how critical the EMFF has been in support fishing ports adjust to the Common Fisheries Policy and the difficulties it has brought. UKfishing ports are clear that there must be a successor to this scheme to support the transition to a new, domestic fishing regime.”

“We want to see our fisheries managed here in a way that supports sustainable stocks but is also economically viable. That means strengthening the economic link between those fishing in UK waters and the communities that support them. Encouraging more landings is the most simple and best way to do this.”

Other findings from the research

Barriers to growth

  • 60% of ports said the marine licensing system is a barrier or significant barrier to growth (in terms of time and cost)
  • 40% said the current iteration of the CFP is a is a barrier or significant barrier to growth. (47% said it neither supports nor hinders growth)
  • EMFF
  • Two thirds of fishing ports have used EMFF to support their day to day operations.
  • 72% of ports rely on EMFF to fund expansion of new services and facilities. 94% have used it in the past to fund expansion

Other infrastructure
Between 70-80% of fish landed in the UK is currently exported, mostly in lorries to EU markets.

  • 45% of ports struggle to meet or cannot meet current demand for access and parking from HGVs or commercial vans
  • Just 1 in 10 ports could accommodate growth in demand for vehicles wanting to use the port for activities related commercial fishing

Notes

  • Conservancy duties: Most Port Authorities have a duty, set out in statute, to conserve their harbour for its users. In practice this means keeping a safe navigation channel open for vessels and a place for them to load and discharge their cargo. Ports charge harbour users a fee to cover the cost of this activity. Each Harbour Authority has its own enabling legislation and duties and powers differ from port to port.
  • Landing dues: Fishing ports generally levy a charge against the value of fish landed in their port, typically 2-3%. This is reliant on accurate reporting from fishermen, who are required to report their landings separately to the Government.
  • The British Ports Association (BPA) represents the interests of 100 port members, covering over 350 ports, terminal operators and port facilities.
  • The BPA’s Fishing Ports Group represents 47 of the top 50 fishing ports by landings, including all of the top 20 (using latest annual landings data – 2016)
  • The Fishing Ports Group surveyed its members in November and December 2017. There were 27 responses from ports
  • The UK ports industry plays a fundamentally important role in the country’s economy. 95% of the UK’s international trade – imports and exports – is carried through UK ports which also handle more than 60 million passenger journeys each year

Source: BPA

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