- stop the resource theft!
The fishing resources along the coast and in the surrounding sea areas are the community's resources. Fish have been the basis for work and settlement along the coast since the dawn of time. The fish has always had great value for the coastal population. Today, the fishing quotas for cod are distributed between the trawler fleet and the coastal fleet. The trawler fleet has delivery obligations to concrete fish reception facilities along the coast that ensure reception and processing on land. This also ensures settlement in the fishing villages. Through regulations, coastal communities are guaranteed access to fisheries resources and thus also jobs and settlement. After the year 2000, the authorities began to give way to big capital in the trawler fleet.
Negotiable quotas have been introduced and the trawler fleet's delivery obligations are being discussed. The community's ownership of the fishery resources is authorized in the Marine Resources Act. How then can the authority give away the community's resources?
This is a theft of resources from you and me and must be stopped. The Solberg government, with then Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker at the helm, put the issue of the trawler fleet's delivery and processing obligations on the agenda. In the Seafood report, a competitive seafood industry (Storting report no. 10 (2015-2016)), proposals and assessments are put forward that undermine the current system regarding delivery and processing obligation. In January 2016, the Minister of Fisheries, Per Sandberg, adopted changes to the quota instructions that make it possible for coastal fishermen in Finnmark to be able to sell their quotas within Northern Norway.
Several quotas from Finnmark have already been sold to Nordland. Will Finnmark eventually lose its fishing quotas? What happens to the fish receptions when the supply of raw material from the coastal fleet is constantly reduced? All this throws the fishing communities, especially in Finnmark, into a situation where the entire basis for work and settlement is put to the test.
Is life difficult in the fishing villages when the coastal fleet is unable to deliver enough fish to the fish farms?
Fishing weather along the coast has always been linked to the fisheries. The fish both are and have been the basis for work and settlement along the coast. In the Marine Resources Act (2009) §1, it is clear that the purpose of the Act shall be "..to ensure employment and housing in the coastal communities". Proximity must give rights to the fishery resources!
Section 2 of the law also clearly states that: "The wild marine resources belong to the community in Norway". How can one then stand in a situation where fishing quotas are traded with the authorities' blessing? Community resources for sale!?
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries (NFD) has chosen, in the aforementioned report to the Storting, to focus much of its attention on the part of the fishing industry that has gone badly. We are talking about the trawler fleet and companies such as Norway Seafood and the Nergård Group. The coastal fleet, the coastal fleet, which is doing well, is not sacrificed much attention.
The coastal fleet is responsible for the delivery of large quantities of fresh fish to discerning markets down in Europe. The coastal fleet contributes greatly to value creation along the coast and has a major competitive advantage in that they can deliver fresh fish, fished close to shore, every day, with low environmental costs.
The coastal fleet has a fuel consumption per kg. caught fish that is less than 30 % of what the trawler fleet has. The coastal fleet's activities help to maintain jobs and settlements along the coast. The coastal fleet also provides greater value creation (defined as the sum of wages, profit to the owner and interest to the bank) of the value of the fish and has more environmentally friendly operation than the trawler fleet. Freshly landed fish is also exported at much higher prices than the trawler fleet's frozen fish. The challenge is to stabilize the flow of goods from a highly variable catch pattern. The Danish Environmental Protection Association believes that the Seafood Report and the Government's policy in this way undermine the value creation that the coastal fleet, the coastal fishing fleet, contributes to on land. The government's policy and the guidelines in the report to the Storting are also in direct conflict with the provisions of the Marine Resources Act, which secure the community's fisheries resources and the link between the fishing fleet at sea and reception and processing on land. When the Seafood Report was processed in the Business Committee in March 2016, the report was sent back to the Government with a demand for further investigations into the delivery obligation, the processing obligation and the activity obligation.
The so-called duty commission was established by Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg. Parts of the trawler fleet currently have an obligation to offer, an alternative delivery obligation, vis-à-vis the fish receptions. This is also an obligation to offer, which in some cases can be abused by the fleet. It is easy for a given trawler to offer a fish reception a given amount of fish at a given time. The problem will in some cases be that the fish reception cannot accept such a large vessel or such large quantities of fish. Not everyone can accept frozen fish either. In some cases, the fish reception is offered frozen fish in the belief that trawlers know that the reception cannot accept. In such a situation, the trawler fulfills its obligations in a way, but the fish reception has no opportunity to accept. The solution is not on-board production on the trawler. The solution is that the individual trawlers must adapt to the fish receptions so that they can deliver the fish. The trawlers who cannot or will not deliver the fish to fish reception in accordance with given quota conditions must lose the quota in favor of the coastal fleet. The challenges started when the former Minister of Fisheries
Svein Ludvigsen (H) (2000 – 2005) made it possible for shipowners to buy and sell catch quotas, the community's resources, from each other. Although subsequent fisheries minister Helga Pedersen (AP) spoke warmly at the time about getting "light in the house", increasing settlement along the coast, the opposite happened. Helga Pedersen essentially continued Svein Ludvigsen's policy. The quotas were concentrated on fewer and larger vessels. When there is now a redistribution of the fish and fishing quotas in this way, this also places guidelines on who gets to fish and how the fish is to be further processed and sold. Today, more and more of the fish is frozen at sea and leaves the region without having contributed to any value creation on land. 11 out of 37 cod trawlers currently have a special permit for on-board production. This does not create many local jobs in the fishing villages along the coast.
It is also timely to ask how much these trawlers actually fish. Today, there is virtually no control of how much fish is frozen in the individual vessel. The vessels fish and transport the entire cargo south to some port in Europe. The authorities only check the papers on board the vessel, which can easily be faked. The NMF has every reason to believe that the trawlers are engaged in extensive poaching on our fishing resources. The Norwegian authorities have, since Svein Ludvigsen was Minister of Fisheries, made the serious mistake against the community, that they have stolen and given away the community's fisheries resources. Resources that should provide income and value creation for all of us have been given away to companies where only they themselves take the profits. This is completely unacceptable and must be stopped. The authorities will probably complicate the clean-up job by taking back the fishing quotas so much that it becomes almost impossible. In any case, there is a job that needs to be done. The stolen resources must return to the community, you and me.
NMF proposes that the quotas be taken over by the State for the lien the individual fishing boat owner has on the vessel in connection with the quota purchase. It is right and reasonable that the State takes over the financial responsibility for a fishing quota they previously guaranteed to the banks. Everyone who has bought or obtained fishing quotas has been directly deceived by the state. The vessels may retain their quota rights in return for payment of a quota rent to the state. This can also be called resource interest.
Professor Torbjørn Trondsen at Norway's Fisheries College has proposed that Statsfisk could be established. Statsfisk is tasked with redistributing these quotas to the fishing fleet. NMF sees the necessity for a fishing boat owner to have predictability in his work. However, that does not mean that you have to own fishing quotas. In the past, individual vessels have been allocated time-limited fishing quotas based on what the sea has had to offer. NMF does not see the problem as to why this cannot continue. Perpetual quotas are not a solution, but you should be able to obtain quota rights over a period of up to 10-15 years, provided that you fish actively. Then you have a predictability. If this is not enough predictability for a shipowner, then the size of the vessel and the costs must probably be reduced. If you are also to have viable coastal communities in the future, it is very important that the authorities do not remove the fish, the very basis of life, from the coast and the coastal population.
The fish is the community's resource, which provides value creation through both jobs and settlements along the coast. In order to ensure that the fishing resources will continue to have the value they have had for the coastal population, also in the future, it is very important that the trawler fleet's delivery and processing obligations towards the fish receptions along the coast are maintained. Those who evade the obligations must also lose their cod quotas.
The coastal fleet in collaboration with the fish reception centers along the coast has proven to be very skilled in managing the fishery resources in an environmentally sustainable and profitable way.
Let it be so in the future as well.