Falklands : Fisheries Committee Meeting for March
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 26.03.2006 (Article Archived on 09.04.2006)
Outstanding Illex catches mean that there will be a good season this year.
FISHERIES COMMITTEE (03/10/06)
By J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of the Fisheries Committee took place in the Liberation Room of the Secretariat at 0900 on Friday, 10 March 2006. Present were Cllr Cockwell (Chairman), Cllr. Mike Rendell, the Chief Executive, Mr. Chris Simpkins, the Attorney General Mr. David Lang QC, Mr. John Barton, Director of fisheries, Mrs. Cheryl Roberts, Beauchene Limited and Mr. Stuart Wallace, Fortuna Limited. Apologies came from Cllr Clausen, Mr. Drew Irvine and Mr. Dick Sawle. Interests were declared by Cheryl Roberts and Mr Stuart Wallace. After the confirmation of the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2006, matters arising from those minutes were discussed.
The Director of Fisheries (DoF) indicated that as a result of discussions at the previous meeting and said three options have been identified with regard to resolving this issue.
The current system can remain in place until 1 July ’06; Elections are called during the middle of this year; A newly formed Falkland Islands Fishing Association could identify representatives, although it was unlikely that this could be implemented in the near future.
Stuart Wallace made the following points:
1) The purpose of the Committee is to provide advice to Government, of a specialist nature. The Committee is an important interface between Government and Industry, which needs input from the companies creating the economic value.
2) It is not an election for members of a social club. Major seafood companies making critical contributions to the Falklands’ economy, see the Committee as vital and need to feel comfortable with its make-up. It is not difficult to imagine the problems if its composition does not fit with the very people it must serve.
3) Current procedure was perhaps simple but appropriate for its time. Current mainstream major companies support it and there has been no hesitation in asking others to stand in on occasion over the years. 100% of Loligo, 100% of Toothfish, 70-80% of Illex sector, 50% of Finfish, 90% of SBW and 50% of Skate, approximately, are onboard.
4) It is reasonable to try to understand what the disgruntled few consider is wrong but risky to give them special consideration and a mistake to skew an election to benefit them.
5) Industry associations play a critical role in any sector of the economy and it is counter-productive to undermine majority attempts, often anyway extremely difficult, to make them work.
6) The Industry does have to move on forming a new association appropriate to the new era and in accordance with the Ordinance. That will take a little time; there will need to be wide discussion as everyone would expect.
7) When this has been done and the new association is up and running, it would put forward names for consideration for the Fisheries Committee.
8) As discussed, if necessary have an election in July of this year.
Chris Simpkins asked whether it is in HE’s gift to nominate representatives and whether he would have the right of veto? The AG confirmed that HE could appoint representatives to the Committee. CE suggested it might be preferable for the industry to come forward with proposals as to how industry representation could be achieved. The industry representations were content to do this.
John Barton cautioned that this would need to be an inclusive process. There was currently no wholly representative body of the fishing industry, so care would need to be taken not to leave anyone out. The benefit of an electoral system is that it generally gives everyone input to the process, although it is also necessary to define exactly who constitutes the electorate in this case.
Any proposals should be available for the April sitting of EXCO.
Cheryl Roberts and Stuart Wallace, who declared an interest, left the room when notices in relation to the grant of ITQ were discussed. The Director of Fisheries indicated that the paper was brief and that a similar matter had also gone to EXCO. The paper stated that effort history and not catch history would be the predominant method determining the granting of licenses for Loligo. There was more work to be done on the granting of ITQ for tooth-fish, where Total Allowable Catch (TAC) would be more relevant.
John Barton indicated that if a firm recommendation on fee levels was to be made the industry representatives would have to consider leaving the room. Input from the industry representatives would be useful, so it might be more appropriate in this meeting to discuss any issues arising in the paper without making a firm recommendation on the level of any increase.
CE agreed this approach and that nothwithstanding their declarations of interest Cheryl Roberts and Stuart Wallace could contribute to this item.
John Barton indicated that the Loligo fees would continue to be set twice yearly. In putting forward options the paper from Imperial College had addressed a combination of factors:
c. 10% of fee to total revenue;
Prevailing market prices
Catches have been reasonable recently and Fee/Revs look fairly low, hence a recommendation to increase Loligo fees.
CR indicated that whilst the Industry understood the need for FIG to look to increase fees, there are other factors apart from catches and prices which have to be taken into consideration, i.e.
Fuel prices have risen and may continue to do so.
John Barton agreed that cost issues were not incorporated into the process, although attention had been drawn to escalating fuel prices. The ‘target’ of a c. 10% fee/revenue ratio has been used for quite some time. Additionally, from the data which FIG acquires, it is aware of levels of industry profitability and needs to ensure that the Loligo fishery remains profitable to the extent that it can influence that.
Stuart Wallace asked if he could distribute a paper which had only just been prepared, which showed there was no relationship between supply and price.
The Chairman asked for clarification on whether it was correct procedure to distribute a paper during a meeting. The AG confirmed that distribution could be made but that any such papers must also be distributed to members of the public attending Part I of the meeting.
Stuart Wallace circulated some data (Analysis of squid catches and prices globally and per size 2002 – 2005) and commented on some of the issues raised in the paper. He questioned the assumptions made on supply and price. Prices had weakened recently; 44% decline on C5, 26% on C4, and 6% on C3. Fuel costs had increased significantly, additionally Loligo licence fees had recently increased by 20%, were further increases justified? There were differences between seasons with larger squid generally being more predominant during the second season, market is affected by stock levels. A 10% fee to revenue ratio may be reasonable for foreign flagged vessels, but was certainly not reasonable to locally owned vessels who make contributions by other means to the economy.
The Industry did not have a lot of faith in the current sea surface temperature model (SST).
In summary; the Industry do not dispute FIG’s interest in raising revenue, but other matters have to be taken into consideration.
John Barton agreed things were more complex. Recently, supply had been ‘controlled’ to some extent by alternating years of high and low supply. The SST model should not be viewed in terms of ‘tablets of stone’, it is another bit of information. The model worked well for 2005 and in statistical terms Biomass and SST are moderately correlated. It remains the case that ‘annual’ Loligo fees are at lower levels than prevailed in 2002. Fees were reduced in anticipation that reduced fishing time would result in reduced catches. However, in 2 out of 3 years with the new season timing, this has not been the case. Catches have been at levels similar to those achieved with the previous longer length seasons. Whilst consideration had been given to moving to an annual fee for Loligo, this was now unlikely. The two Loligo fisheries are specified as separate fisheries in the new system and, as such, it is conceivable that they may go separate ways.
John Barton commented that he had little to add to what was already in the public domain. It was a significant fisheries incident and had therefore been added to the Fisheries Committee agenda. The department’s VMS showed the vessel to be the right side of the line.
SW stated that the vessel was currently held in Commodoro Rivadavia. The company’s legal advisers have not been advised of what Argentine Law is, and the vessel can be held for up to 60 days. The position of the vessel when compared to the calculated position of the Argentine zone shows the vessel to have been outside that zone.
The next meeting of the Committee will be held at 0900 on 7 April in the Liberation Room.