Small boats take on powerful groups in court

01 May 2013
Small-scale fishermen make up three quarters of Britain’s fishing fleet

Small-scale fishermen make up three quarters of Britain’s fishing fleet

Small-scale fishermen are joining the government in a court battle with Britain’s most powerful fishing groups which could decide who ultimately controls the UK's fishing quota.

Environmental campaigners and representatives of small-scale fishermen will be demonstrating outside the High Court in London today as the first day of hearings begins.

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) decision to realign a small amount of consistently unused quota to the under-10 sector - a move aimed at improving the efficient uptake of fishing quota – has been challenged by the UK Association of Producers’ Organisations (UKAFPO). Grounds for appeal include ‘deprivation of possessions’ – a legal argument implying that they regard quota as a private asset.

Producer organisations currently hold about 95% of the UK fishing quota, where as small-scale fishermen make up three quarters of Britain’s fishing fleet, but only tap into 4% of the overall quota pool.

The New Under Ten Fishermen's Association (NUTFA) and Greenpeace have been given permission by the court to intervene in the case, and will argue that fishing rights should remain a public good which the government allocates on the basis of sound environmental and economic criteria.

Jerry Percy, chief executive to NUTFA, said, “This is the last chance saloon for many small scale and sustainable fishermen who will not have a future if their birth right ends up in the hands of a few big players”.

Greenpeace ocean campaigner Ariana Densham said, “Greenpeace will be in court to help fight against this gross injustice which is threatening the future of the sustainable and small-scale part of our fleet and the coastal communities which depend on it.” 

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