Atvinnurógur og afskipti Seðlabanka Íslands af fiskveiðimálum

FAL (Fishermen's Assosiation Limited) í Skotlandi setti upp ráðstefnu í Faraserburg í nóvember 2003. Þar var fjallað um fiskifræði og stjórnkerfi fiskveiða. Ég var frummælandi ásamt Sigurjóni Þórðarsyni og Jörgen Niclasen fyrrverandi sjávarútvegsráðherra Færeyja.

Fréttir af ráðstefnunni birtust á vefi "Intrafish". Snarlega hafði Ólafur Klemenzon hagfræðingur Seðlabanka Íslands samband við "Intrafish" og rægði frummælendur og kvað íslenska fisveiðistjórnarkerfið vera til fyrirmyndar og vinsælt á Íslandi. Færeyska kerfið væri hins vegar handónýtt. Alþingismaður sendi fyrirspurn til Seðlabanka til að spyrja hvort Ólafur túlkaði stefnu Seðlabankans en bankinn kvað svo ekki vera. Ég sé eftir því að hafa ekki stefnt bankanum fyrir atvinnuróg en það er auðvelt að vera eftir á, eins og þeir segja nú bankamennirnir.

Hér er frásögn "Intrafish" af fundinum, þá er inlegg Ólafs Klemenzonar og loks fundargerð FAL.

The Faeroe System, 'Fisheries policy is about people'

Faeroese politician : "If we'd listened to ICES, the Faeroes would have gone bankrupt. But we didn't listen, and the biomass [of cod] is bigger than ever."

This was the message Faeroese MP and former Fisheries Minister Jørgen Niclasen brought to an audience of Scottish fishermen and politicians assembled to debate whether there is an alternative to the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. The meeting was organised by the Fishermen's Association Limited.

The UK industry fears that this year's December Fisheries Council will mean further cuts in quotas and days at sea, in the light of the advice from ICES issued last month.

Jørgen Niclasen Mr Niclasen pointed out that ICES advised a 5-year ban on cod fishing from 1992 in Faeroese waters. The scientists said that this meant the stock might recover in 20 years. However, during the period since the Faeroes have applied effort control alone within their territorial waters, the stock of cod has risen year on year. The prognistication from ICES had been one of declining stocks unless effort was cut by 25 per cent per year.

"They [ICES] said we'd fish the stock out. So where did all this cod come from - did it drop from the sky?" asked Mr Niclasen. Not only did the prediction fail to come true, but the Faeroese fishery industry has advanced to such an extent that recent surveys showed it ranking top in terms of both sustainability and profitability.

The audience of fishermen listened with interest as the former Fisheries Minister outlined how the Faeroese system of effort control via fishing days works in practice. Of particular interest was the issue of discards. Under the Faeroese system, all fish caught are landed. "There's no discarding in the Faeroes because there's no need for it. There's no problem landing the fish, so there's no 'black' landings, no high-grading, no 'renaming' of species," emphasised Mr Niclasen. "This is not a system that creates criminals. The quota system creates criminals." He also stressed that there are various reasons why the system works so well - most importantly that it is accepted by everyone involved. "If you don't have a system that the people inside it accept, forget it," said Mr Niclasen. "Fisheries policy is about fishermen, their families, their kids, it's about communities, it's about people. For fisheries scientists, it's just about fish - but that's their job."

He explained that the Faeroese regime also allows for immediate, real-time responses to situations such as too many very small fish in the catch by closing areas - however, he pointed out that it's very rare to have to resort to this expedient. "It's hopeless to control with quotas," he said. "You need to control effort and let nature control what's caught. "The fisheries manager is like the referee in a football match. If the referee tries to control the result, it won't work. His job is to control the effort, then the system works well."

Read also: Danish politician wants to see EU follow Faeroes' example (17.11.03)

Aberdeen, Scotland,17.11.2003, Fiona Cameron, IntraFish

The most dangerous thing is selective fishing

Icelandic scientist : Iceland's experience with quotas should be a salutory lesson to the countries within the EU.

That was the message that came over loud and clear from Icelandic speakers at last Friday's seminar in Fraserburgh. The audience also heard that selective fishing, or banning fishing, could have the reverse of the intended effect. The seminar, organised by the Fishermen's Association Limited, was an opportunity to examine alternatives to using advice from ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea).

Speakers claimed that 80 per cent of the population of fishery-dependent Iceland is are opposed to the use of quotas. The point was illustrated by statistics showing that Iceland's cod stocks appear to have declined since the quota system was introduced (on the advice of ICES), to a point where the cod catch is just half its previous level. Quotas were blamed for causing discards (particularly of smaller, younger, less valuable fish), and black fish landings, thus leading to inevitable errors in stock assessments.

Independent fisheries scientist Jon Kristjansson compared Iceland's experience to that of the Faeroes, where quotas were abandoned in favour of effort control based on fishing days. Here, stocks have risen year on year, despite higher catches - in spite of ICES advice to the contrary. He pointed out that the years of World War II gave the Faeroese stocks a 5-year rest, which should - according to scientific conventional wisdom - have led to massive increases in biomass. Instead of this, in the absence of fishing, stocks declined.

Jon Kristjansson also used graphs to illustrate his theory that, in the case of both cod and haddock, an increasing biomass leads to decreased recruitment, and vice versa. "Nature is always adjusting," he said. "Recruitment depends on availability of food. If the stock is good, they eat all he food, and there's none lefrt for the young fish."

The Icelandic scientist, whose views are controversial, dismissed the ICES theory that an increase in spawning stock will lead to good recruitment. "ICES is wrong!" he declared. "The problem in fisheries is not lack of young fish, but lack of food." He added that mature cod and haddock he studied in north east Scottish ports earlier this year showed clear signs of extreme starvation. "Why say 'catch fewer fish' when the ones that are there are starving?" he asked.

He was also sceptical about the view which blames low stocks on over-fishing. "The scientists attempt to assess total mortality - that is a combination of natural mortality and fishing mortality. But you can't measure natural mortality. If it's increasing through natural causes such as competition for food, predation, cannibalism, it'll look like increased fishing mortality." Mr Kristjansson added that even if the North Sea was completely closed to fishing, there would still be a high level of fishing mortality - he posited levels as high as 60 - 80 per cent- because of these natural factors. He also linked the low level of cod stocks in the North sea to the 30-year high in haddock stocks, since cod and haddock compete for food, specially inthe juvenile stages. "You can't help cod by not fishing. You can't save cod in that way, because by not fishing you're not catching the haddock either. The most dangerous thing is selective fishing. We are not controlling stocks, we are harvesting them. If you look at all the problem areas - Canada, Iceland, Faeroes, Scotland, Norway - the problem was lack of food. We can't help that by not fishing."

Aberdeen, Scotland 18.11.2003, Fiona Cameron, IntraFish

Ólafur Klemensson Seðlabanka Íslands: Icelandic fisheries management has 'overwhelming support' of population

A senior economist with the Central Bank of Iceland has told IntraFish that he disagrees strongly with the views which two of his compatriots expressed at a Scottish conference last week.

Olafur Klemensson said that, whereas Icelandic MP Siggi Thordarsson claimed that the bulk of the Icelandic population is opposed to the current quota system, in fact the system is not unpopular. "The fishery management system in Iceland has overwhelming support in our Parliament and good support among the general public, although there are debates on if and how to introduce a tax on the resource rent," said Mr Klemensson.

He was also scathing of the views expressed at the meeting by independent Icelandic fisheries scientist Jon Kristjansson. "Mr Kristjansson is a highly controversial person, putting forward very debatable opinions, and nobody within the scientific community in Iceland shares his wisdom," said the economist. "It is really sad that this person got the opportunity to publicise his policy and very questionable science. Scottish fishermen, in their need for good advice, are not well advised by Mr. Kristjansson. The fishery management policy adopted in Iceland in 1990 is, on the other hand, is as good a system as it gets, as no fishery management system will ever be optimal and final.

"The ITQ (individual transferable quota) system in Iceland is unquestionably far superior to the effort system in the Faeroe Islands." Mr Klemensson also said that Iceland's experience during the Second World War conflicts with Mr Kristjansson's view of the effect the five-year respite from fishing had on Faeroese stocks. "During WW II, the Icelandic harvesting grounds were spared from English and German trawlers, and the level of effort dropped by two thirds. Consequently the cod stock recovered in such a way that the post-war years were the best in cod catch in many years," he said.

Aberdeen, Scotland, 19.11.2003, Fiona Cameron, IntraFish

Fundargerð, skrifuð af R. Stevenson