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Task Force on Gear Conflict Mary Cuthbert OBE 1. BACKGROUND SG Gear Conflict Task Force established by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the.

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Presentation on theme: "Task Force on Gear Conflict Mary Cuthbert OBE 1. BACKGROUND SG Gear Conflict Task Force established by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Task Force on Gear Conflict Mary Cuthbert OBE 1

2 BACKGROUND SG Gear Conflict Task Force established by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment in November 2013 following representations from inshore fishermen Not a new problem but increasing incidence of deliberate & destructive incidents of gear vandalism/theft & lack of systems to manage them leading to frustration from fishermen and fishery officers alike Minister and Marine Scotland made clear –deliberate acts of vandalism unacceptable because of their impact on individual enterprises/communities as a whole 2

3 TASK FORCE (1) Membership Internal to SG but Independent Chair Marine Scotland – Compliance and Policy Justice – Police Division Maritime and Coastguard Agency Remit Task Forces asked to:- Consider range of issues pertaining to gear conflict, both accidental & deliberate Examine how processes/procedures might be improved to prevent conflict & deal more effectively with instances Make recommendations on possible solutions for SG & industry partners 3

4 TASK FORCE (2) Approach Freedom to explore/surface issues surrounding gear conflict & offer possible solutions Informed by:- – anecdotal evidence gleaned from discussions with industry–SFF, SCFF, Fishermen from North West & East Coast; – input from Police Scotland, COPFS and SGLD; & – Grid Economics Report on nature; extent; & socio- economic costs associated with gear conflict; – records of all gear conflict reports held by Marine Scotland Compliance via Marine Scotland Intelligence Report database 4

5 FINDINGS(1) This “intelligence” provided invaluable insight into problems experienced/issues surrounding them:- – gear conflict undoubtedly has a considerable socio- economic impact not only on the “ victim” but on small fishing communities as a whole; – vast majority of fishermen behave responsibly doing what they can to exist in harmony; – not a new problem nor one with a single/simple solution; – concern heightened by increased pressure on fisheries; – accidental damage acknowledged as being to some extent an occupational hazard that can be resolved amicably & satisfactorily between operators; – deliberate gear damage/theft another matter altogether & totally unacceptable to all concerned 5

6 FINDINGS (2) Gear vandalism/theft common law offences for Police Scotland to investigate & report to PFs; Lack of sufficient evidence base has meant that it has proved almost impossible to secure a successful prosecution for gear vandalism/theft; Considerable scepticism about efficacy of industry-led voluntary measures to prevent gear conflict (e.g. undermined by nomadic vessels) Marine Scotland does not currently have a role in enforcing gear conflict despite it being the direct result of a regulated fishing activity; Thus current fisheries enforcement/management tools not designed to enforce or prevent gear conflict; 6

7 CONCLUSIONS (1) Reliance on the criminal law alone to prevent gear conflict/ deal adequately with perpetrators of gear vandalism/theft is not a satisfactory or effective solution. Action to address gear conflict MUST sit within the wider policy context provided by the Inshore Fisheries Strategy The challenge is to come up with a solution which is at the same time:- – proportionate to the scale of the problems being experienced; – tailored to the specific needs of different fishing communities around Scotland; & – has the broad support of the fishing industry as a whole. 7

8 RECOMMENDATIONS (2) Recommendations fall within 3 broad parameters:- – “beefing” up voluntary codes of conduct agreed locally with the full support of Fishing Associations and the Federations, to mitigate against gear conflict; – separation of/restrictions on fishing activities, through space and time, either as part of these voluntary agreements or through mandatory control; and – better deployment of the current statutory framework for managing fisheries in Scotland and for dealing with deliberate acts of gear vandalism/theft, both to act as a deterrent against gear conflict and to deal with incidents when they do occur. 8

9 RECOMMENDATIONS : VOLUNTARY CODES OF PRACTICE Recommendation 1: Marine Scotland to explore the feasibility for bringing elements of voluntary codes of practice into the licensing system in order to give them greater bite. Rationale: Voluntary Codes do have a role to play in tackling gear conflict BUT insufficient on their own to tackle the problem of gear conflict. Only way to ensure compliance is via license conditions enforceable by Marine Scotland Compliance 9

10 RECOMMENDATIONS: SEPARATION OF FISHING ACTIVITIES (1) Recommendation 2: That Marine Scotland, in consultation with its industry partners, should look more widely at the scope for licence changes specifically to address gear conflict within fisheries management. This would, therefore, bring the matter within the scope of Marine Scotland’s enforcement and compliance remit. It is recognised that questions of proportionality and regulatory burden will be central to these considerations. Recommendation 3: Actively consider possible legislative changes under the Inshore Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1984. Marine Scotland in consultation with its industry partners and IFGs should consider the scope for piloting time and/or spatial zones at gear conflict “black spots”. In addition, it should consider whether licence conditions need to be used to support the restricted areas. 10

11 RECOMMENDATIONS: SEPARATION OF FISHING ACTIVITIES (2) Rationale: Marine Scotland can restrict access to vessels in certain areas but usually for conservation reasons. Gear conflict has never been a primary motivation for such closure. Likewise, voluntary agreements between fishermen and their fishing representatives –facilitated by MS - for time/spatial separation have to date been the result of some significant change to fishing activity (e.g. Burghead Agreement). Thus, need to tease out the implications of using the licensing system to enforce separation arrangements including how this can be underpinned by fisheries management tools -technology VMS/AIS; creel tagging; reporting of creel position etc. 11

12 RECOMMENDATIONS: IMPROVED ENFORCEMENT (1) Recommendation 4: That Marine Scotland considers how technology might be better used to support the gathering of evidence for gear conflict. Recommendation 5: Marine Scotland to undertake targeted surveillance in areas where there is historically known to be gear conflict to inform enforcement improvements. Incidents of gear conflict would be reported to Police Scotland as usual. 12

13 RECOMMENDATIONS: IMPROVED ENFORCEMENT (2) Rationale: Will take time develop specific legislative and/or other provision to address gear conflict, but there is a need to act now to better enforce the existing law relating to gear vandalism and theft. Lack of a sufficiently strong evidential base is the main barrier to prosecution Vessel tracking technology deployed to manage fisheries could potentially have a role to play in strengthening that base, and needs to be looked at. 13

14 NEXT STEPS Task Force work now complete: Minister has accepted the recommendations and the need for targeted action on gear conflict. Now for Marine Scotland to take forward the recommendations in consultation with fishing industry. As an immediate first step, Marine Scotland taking forward surveillance under recommendation 5. 14

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