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"Nothing could be clearer than the need for an independent review of the Marine Management Organisation's fisheries functions given the sequential failures of the Organisation to get a grip of its central functions and cross-party criticism in Parliament. Yet we are being fobbed off with the usual promises and evasions," said NFFO Chairman Tony Delahunty.

"Shellfish policy is another area where there is absolutely no prospect of progress this side of an election. Getting capacity in line with available resources is the absolute fundamental tenet of sound management, yet the Government dithers about putting a cap on the number of high volume crab vessels, and witters about "voluntary measures". Government inertia raises serious questions about how this fleet will be able to exist within the context of the western waters effort regime. It is abrogating its responsibilities."

"It is clear that the implications of the landing obligation and knock-on consequences for adjacent fisheries like shellfish have not been thought through. But what are all those category B and C licences going to do now they cannot discard but have no quota allocations? There is only silence on these issues."

"Bass is another area of concern. The Commission's emergency measures are no doubt eye catching but they do not represent a comprehensive response that addresses all sources of fishing mortality, including the catch of recreational anglers."

The Executive did take heart however, that the Federation's work to challenge media misconceptions and distortions was making solid progress.

"Challenging lazy and sensationalist stories, whilst initiating coverage of the positive developments in our fisheries, had made 2014 a much more "fishing friendly" year in the media than the previous year," said Delahunty. "We have agreed to continue this effort in 2015 with campaigns focused on sustainable fishing, the need for diverse fleets, fisheries science partnerships and food security."

Looming over the future are the implications of the EU landings obligation when applied to the demersal fisheries in 2016. The lack of clarity about what the discard ban will mean at vessel level – which species will be included and when? What exemptions will be available? How the ban will be monitored and enforced? What the ban will mean for quotas and quota management? All await answers and in the meantime generate concern and uncertainty within the industry.

A DEFRA consultation on the demersal landings obligation is imminent but it is unlikely that much clarity will be available in the first half of the year. In these circumstances it is very difficult for vessels to prepare for the biggest change to the CFP since its inception, say the NFFO.

"All in all, given the inertia in government and the lack of clarity about the landings obligation, this is a period of great uncertainty and frustration in the industry, even at a time when the fundamentals – fishing pressure and stocks – are heading steadily in the right direction," Delahunty adds.

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European stocks eighteen times more sustainable

THERE has been an eighteen-fold increase in north-east Atlantic commercial stocks now fished at sustainable levels compared to 12 years ago, new scientific data has revealed.

The EU figures show that 36 stocks are now fished at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels – a key indicator of the sustainability of a particular fishery. This is compared to 27 fisheries at MSY in 2014 and just two in 2003.

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Search is on for best fish and chips

THE National Fish & Chip Awards 2016, organised by SEAFISH, were launched today, marking the start of the nine-month trawl of the UK’s best chippies.

Now in their 28th year, the awards are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK, aptly known as the frying Oscars.

Celebrating the great British tradition of fish and chips, they showcase the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses across the UK.

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UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year 2015 cooks off in style

The Northern regional heat of the 19th UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year took place on Friday 6th March 2015, with student chefs from across Scotland and northern England taking part.

The opening heat of the 2015 competition was held at New Lanarkshire College, Motherwell, Scotland.  Each team of two young chefs had to prepare and present three appetising dishes comprising a starter course using salmon and/or haddock fillets, an intermediate course using whole sea bass and/or mackerel and a main course using cod and/or pollack fillets.

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A TWITTER campaign urging consumers to be more adventurous in their fish consumption has been backed by rising culinary star John Whaite, winner of the Great British Bake Off.

The campaign dubbed #CatchOfTheDay is being run by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisation (NFFO) and aims to champion the diversity of the UK fishing fleet and encourage consumers to venture beyond the seafood staples of cod, haddock and salmon.

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Westminster - fiddles while fishermen fume (2)

INERTIA in government circles means that fisheries policy on a number of key issues has stalled, according to the Executive Committee of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO).

The Committee, which met recently in York, concluded that the forthcoming General Election meant that it was unlikely that progress would be made until the second half of this year.

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