More quota for the under-10 fleet
April 05 2011 Fish2Fork
Boat from Hastings MSC fleet
Valerie Craig/Marine Photobank
Small-scale fishing fleets are to be given extra support under government plans to simplify the quota system in England, fisheries minister Richard Benyon has said.
The fishermen, especially those in under-10 metre boats, are to be given more control over how they operate as part of proposals designed to make fishing a more sustainable industry whilst reducing central control and bureacracy.
The measures, which are being put out to consultation, are in advance of the forthcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy demanded by Britain and other European countries.
Mr Benyon believes England’s fleets have been failed by “successive management regimes” and he believes the industry has been prevented from fulfilling its potential and wants to see some quotas reallocated.
The proposals he is putting forward, which he hopes will be in place by next year, are intended to satisfy both the demands of the fishing industry for greater freedom and those of environmental groups which are anxious to protect fish stocks from being over-exploited.
A key element of the proposals is for small-scale fisheries, especially those that are closely linked to specific coastal communities and those with a strong fishing heritage, to be supported rather than having large fleets controlling huge quotas. A community quota system is advocated in the proposals, though ministers and civil servants are open to suggestions of what form it could best take.
Mr Benyon, the UK fisheries minister, said: “Many fishermen are struggling to make a living, and the current system for managing quota stocks isn’t helping. It doesn’t give all English fishermen the freedom to fish for a share of the catch at the most profitable time, which is what they need.
“We need a simple, straightforward system that gives fishermen more say, and gives the communities that have such strong links to their fishing fleets the opportunity to invest and be involved in the way their local fleet is managed. The industry needs to be freed to fish so that all fishermen, and the ports that rely on them, have the opportunity to thrive.”
Sustainability is an important theme of the reforms, according to the consultation document. In particular it notes that action needs to be taken to stop brown crab stocks being seriously damaged by overfishing.
“Non-quota stocks, fished both in and offshore by small and large vessels, are amongst the most valuable fisheries for many businesses,” it states. “In part, this has been driven by dwindling quota availability. Amongst the brown crab industry especially, there are concerns that there are insufficient management measures in place to maintain sustainable stocks, and so this is another area requiring consideration to deliver sustainability in English fisheries.”
It also states: “English fisheries play an important role in providing food, jobs, wealth, and other social and cultural benefits, particularly in coastal communities. They should be managed in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.”
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