UK Government plans to support thriving fishing industry 

THE UK Government has today set out steps that it hopes will deliver a thriving, sustainable fishing industry and healthy marine environment for generations to come.

Defra says that it is introducing a system of fisheries management which draws on the best available science and fisher expertise to ensure our fish stocks are healthy and sustainable long into the future

This new system will be underpinned by Fisheries Management – blueprints for how best to manage fish stocks – with the first six published on Monday, including bass, king scallops, crab and lobster; produce for which we are renowned around the world.

These management plans – developed together with industry and anglers over 18 months – deliver commitments from the Fisheries Act 2020 and will help to build a modern, resilient fishing industry while securing sustainable fish stocks. These plans will be a combination of actions that can be taken now to protect stocks – such as seasonal closures or further scientific studies – and longer-term approaches, using the latest scientific evidence so we have the most productive and sustainable sector possible.

Defra’s announcement includes the removal of the cap on the amount of quota that small under 10 metre vessels can use, a move which may exacerbate over-fishing and which will need careful monitoring.

There will also be a consultation launching the government’s vision for remote electronic monitoring (REM) in English waters, setting out the proposed approach and next steps.

REM systems include cameras, gear sensors and GPS units, and will ensure management plans are supported by robust evidence and data. This technology can gather data while fishing boats are at sea, including on the amount, size and species of fish which are being caught. The systems will also be able to record information on accidental bycatch of sea birds or whales and dolphins.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey, said “The UK has some of the finest fish stocks in the world, forming an integral part of healthy marine ecosystems while providing livelihoods, enjoyment and prosperity to coastal communities.

“Today’s reforms mark a clear departure from the outdated Common Fisheries Policy now we are an independent coastal state, and will deliver the UK’s ambition to build a modern, resilient and profitable fishing industry underpinned by sustainable fish stocks and a healthy marine environment for the future.”

Mike Cohen, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said “For centuries, fishing has produced food, provided jobs and supported communities. Measures to strengthen fishing businesses and enhance their sustainable growth will bring tangible benefits to the UK. Fisheries Management Plans represent a genuinely ambitious attempt to break away from the unsuccessful top-down impositions of the [Common Fisheries Policy] and unite fishers, scientists and regulators in building something new and better. Fishermen’s livelihoods depend on healthy seas and sensible regulations. We welcome this opportunity to collaborate in shaping them.”

Today’s announcement builds on steps the UK government has already made to deliver a thriving fishing sector outside the EU, including an uplift in quota shares valued at around £101 million in fishing opportunities to the UK fleet this year alone.


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