Fishing has to continue in increasingly crowded seas. Over several decades, we’ve found ways to co-exist with oil and gas operations, but this will become even more challenging as offshore renewables further expand.
ENGAGING WITH THE INDUSTRY
Fishermen are able to navigate throughout much of Scotland’s sea, but fishing doesn’t take place everywhere — it takes place in areas where target species are found and where the habitats are suitable. The development of offshore energy in our seas — initially subsea oil and gas fields and, more recently, offshore renewables (mostly wind, with some small test sites for tidal and wave) — have an increasing impact on space available for fishing. There are concerns that the expansion of offshore renewables in particular will lead to fishermen losing access to important fishing grounds. SFF works with the offshore energy industry to try to find ways that impacts can be avoided or reduced and mitigated.
SFF actively represents its Constituent Associations in a wide range of offshore energy related forums, including Moray Firth and Firth and Tay CFWGs, Pipeline Users Group (PLUG) and at the strategic level Fisheries Liaison Group (FLG) and Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council (SOWEC) sub-group.
SFF also formally comments on any offshore energy related consultations, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Reports, EIA Reports/Application for Development of new projects and Decommissioning Programmes — regularly meeting with a wide range of offshore renewable developers and oil and gas operators to discuss project update and resolve any existing or upcoming issues.
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation is currently developing an Offshore Renewable Energy Policy (OREP) that sets out our priorities and objectives for offshore renewables (wind, tidal and wave energy) and we have a well-established Decommissioning Policy that deals with offshore oil and gas operations. The fundamental aims are to ensure that the interests of SFF Constituent Association members are protected and promoted throughout any offshore energy infrastructure planning, development, operational and decommissioning stages.
This OREP will clearly lay out SFF’s positions and expectations of Offshore Renewable Energy Infrastructures (OREI) developers throughout the offshore renewable energy project life-cycle. The policy will propose clear guidelines to developers on the selection of subsea infrastructures (e.g. turbines, inter-array and export cables), conducting surveys, construction phases and decommissioning of OREIs.
The OREP will be published in 2024.
The Fishing Liaison with Offshore Wind and Wet Renewables Group (FLOWW) was set up in 2002 to foster good relations between the fishing and offshore renewable energy sectors and to encourage co-existence between both industries. FLOWW’s objectives are to enable and facilitate discussion on matters arising from the interaction of the fishing and offshore renewable energy industries, promote and share best practices, and encourage liaison with other sectors in the marine environment.
FLOWW comprises organisations interested in offshore renewables and the fishing industry, comprising fishing industry bodies, offshore renewable developers and consultants, government agencies and The Crown Estate. The group is facilitated by a secretariat funded by The Crown Estate.
For more information view the FLOWW Best Practice Guidance for Offshore Renewables Development below.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation was a founder member of the U.K. Fisheries Offshore Oil and Gas Legacy Trust Fund (FLTC) along with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and Offshore Energy UK (OEUK).
SFF Chief Executive Officer, Elspeth Macdonald, represents SFF on the board of trustees of the charity which has appointed an independent chairman, Charles Scott. SFF provides the secretarial and book-keeping support to FLTC. Derek Duthie is company secretary.
The FLTC Board oversees the work to ensure that fishermen have access to up-to-date safety information through the FishSAFE system, as well as being responsible for overall governance of the charitable company.
FishSAFE Alarm Unit
The latest version of the FishSAFE unit, Mk3, is now available to UK based vessels. This incorporates considerable improvements and has proved very popular with skippers who have undertaken fishing trials.
SFF’s decommissioning policy lays out key principles
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) Offshore Oil and Gas Decommissioning Policy outlines the key industry principles in relation to decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure in the UKCS.
OEUK Fishermen’s Compensation Fund was established by the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association in 1975 following pressure from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation to address the issue of unattributable debris from oil activity in UK waters.
The purpose of the fund is to provide a means of redress to skippers who have suffered loss or damage to fishing gear caused by oil-related debris where the oil company responsible cannot be established or where the incident occurred in an unlicensed oil block. Where the damage can be attributed to a specific company, any claim should be pursued directly with the relevant company. If a claim against a particular operator is unsuccessful, an application may then be made to the OEUK Fund for consideration. The fund deals only with claims from British fishing vessels arising from incidents occurring within the UK Continental Shelf (excluding the statutory safety zones surrounding offshore installations and properly declared suspended wellheads).
The fund is financed by OEUK and managed by a committee of representatives of the UK fishing industry. The committee meets regularly and has absolute discretion in dealing with all claims. There is no appeal against the committee’s decision. The committee comprises of number of skippers, representing the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the National Federation of Fisheries Officers. The current chairman is experienced skipper and present SFF Marine Assurance Officer, Andrew Third with OEUK and the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency attending as observers.
All settlements are determined by the OEUK Fund and in no way implies acceptance of any legal liability on the part of OEUK or any of its members and is made upon the understanding that the claimant waives all right to claim against any member company of OEUK.
Claim forms and guidance notes and procedures to be followed in the event of an incident can be obtained from all UK Fishery Offices.
Below is the procedure following incident:
Following an incident, all details should be recorded in the logbook (date, time and location of the occurrence and whether an attempt was made to bring the debris ashore). Where possible the debris should be photographed. Where another fishing vessel has witnessed the incident a corroborative statement should be obtained from the skipper.
Upon return to port the skipper should report the incident to the fishery officer and request that he inspect any damaged gear and any debris recovered. The fishery officer will supply compensation claim forms. The fishery officer may be able to establish the oil company responsible allowing for a claim to be made directly. The fishery officer may also be able to advise on the completion of the Form.
The completed claim form should be sent to the fishing liaison officer of the relevant oil company or to the OEUK Fishermen’s Compensation Fund (see below). Part I of the Written Claims Procedure must be submitted within 14 days of the vessel’s return to port following the incident. Upon receipt of the entire claim documentation (including photographs, corroborative statements and receipted accounts in support of claim excluding recoverable VAT) the oil company will respond within 14 days.
Where the debris is recovered, representatives of the oil company must be given the opportunity to make an inspection. The skipper or his agent should make contact with the fishing liaison officer of the relevant oil company or with the UK Offshore Operators Fishing Liaison Group within 3 days of the vessel’s return to port to arrange an inspection. The fishery officer may be able to assist in the identification of the relevant personnel. Arrangements should be made for the debris to be retained for a period of 14 days.