Falkland Islands governor Howard Pearce confirmed that intensive work is underway to bring the new fisheries management regime into effect from July 1, 2006.
Ten separate papers on the enactment of the Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance were considered in this year's last Executive Council meeting. Governor Pearce summarised the key issues which were decided by ExCo.
One of the most important decisions under the new fisheries arrangements will be the initial allocation of Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) or Provisional Quota (PQ) in the individual fisheries.
The first paper considered by ExCo established the criteria under which applications for the grant of ITQ or PQ would be assessed which is as follows: (a) applicants must have their names on the relevant eligibility register; (b) the ITQ or PQ in any fishery should be distributed to the applicants in accordance with their track record in that fishery, as assessed over a qualifying period.
Schedule 2 of the Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance sets out details of the individual fisheries and ExCo agreed a recommendation by the Director of Fisheries that Schedule 2 should be amended so as to: (a) introduce a scallop fishery; (b) designate the finfish fisheries as ?all year', rather than covering two 6-month seasons; (c) to re-designate the ?restricted finfish licence' from ?type S/Surimi' to ?restricted finfish ? pelagic'. This fishery will be limited to pelagic fishing gear; (d) to bring the start date for the first loligo season forward by 5 days to February 24.
ExCo agreed to postpone the entry of the skate fishery into the new rights based system until January 1, 2007. This change has been made at the request of the participants of the fishery. The Crown will retain ownership of ITQ/PQ in this fishery until December 31, 2006, and until then the skate fishery will continue to be licensed in a format similar to the current process.
Limits on max proportions An important element of the new fisheries policy is to set limits on the maximum proportions of ITQ, PQ or catch entitlement which any one company can hold in an established fishery. The Governor said ExCo considered a paper on this subject from the Director of Fisheries, and agreed the limits which should be set for each fishery.
"The object of this aspect of the policy is to avoid all except the smallest fisheries being dominated by a single company."
The Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance makes it a condition of entitlement to ownership of ITQ that the whole of the issued share capital of a company should be owned by persons having Falkland Islands status and who are ordinarily resident in the Falkland Islands.
The Fisheries Ordinance does however allow some exemption or dispensation from these criteria to be granted. ExCo considered the policy for granting such exemptions or dispensations, and concluded that applications for an exemption or dispensation should be viewed favourably when the following conditions applied:
(a) the company was in existence and operating prior to September 15, 2005; (b) the level of non-compliant shareholding was minor, and other than exceptionally in any case less than 10%; (c) the company was committed to reducing the level of non-compliant shareholding; (d) the company's articles of association complied with sub-section 25 (2)(a)(i) of the Ordinance; (e) the company satisfied the tests set out in Section 25 (3) of the Ordinance.
"These points set out the general policy, but each case would be considered on its merits", commented Mr. Pearce.
Fisheries Committee Finally ExCo considered appointments to the Fisheries Committee and agreed that the composition of the Committee until June 30, 2006 should be chaired by Councillor Andrea Clausen (Chairman), Councillor Richard Cockwell, Chris Simpkins (Chief Executive), David Lang (Attorney General), John Barton (Director of Fisheries), Julian Morris (General Manager, FIDC) plus four representatives from fisheries interests.
Membership of the Committee with effect from July 1, 2006 will be considered in slower time. The Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance establishes a Disputes Commission and it was agreed that Mrs. Clare Faulds, the Senior Magistrate, should be appointed Chairman of the Commission and that members should be Mr Keith Biles, Mr Andrew Brownlee, Mr Terry Spruce and Mrs. Judy Summers." (PN).-