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Angling Trust demands fair deal for sea anglers in new Fisheries Bill

23.06.17

Sea Angler on Beach in Surf

The Angling Trust has welcomed the announcement of a new Fisheries Bill in Wednesday’s Queen’s speech. The new bill will be part of a package of ‘Brexit’ bills due to be enacted over the course of the next two years and aims to enable the UK to control access to its waters and set national fishing quotas once it has left the EU.

The Angling Trust supports the government’s commitment to maintain a quota system and steer away from the effort-based systems, such as days-at-sea, which were favoured by some in the commercial fishing industry. All the evidence, including pilot projects, strongly suggests these systems would lead to overfishing and a worsening of the state of fish stocks. However, any new UK quotas will still need to be set in co-operation with the EU, and within safe biological limits, to ensure that stocks are not overfished.

No details have been included about the definition of UK waters and whether the bill intends to declare British sovereignty out to 200 miles or the median line where it applies.

However, the Angling Trust is concerned that, as yet, there has been no reference to recreational fisheries and their value to the economy which, for some stocks, makes recreational fishing the primary economic stakeholder in the exploitation of publicly-owned fish stocks supporting more jobs and businesses in coastal communities than commercial fishing for the same stocks.

Management objectives for recreational fishing differ from those of commercial fishing which is only interested in the total number of tonnes of fish that can be harvested. Members of the public who fish recreationally require management measures that deliver abundant, localised, inshore populations of adult, mature, fish. No such measures have been adopted by the UK while a member of the EU as the Common Fisheries Policy has failed to recognise recreational fisheries as a legitimate stakeholder and while the objective of the CFP has focused exclusively on the commercial objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield. The new UK Fisheries Bill presents an opportunity to redress this.

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd is writing to seek an urgent meeting with the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, and the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, as soon as possible to ensure that members of the public fishing recreationally are recognised as equal direct user-stakeholders in the management of our publicly-owned fish stocks.

Mark Lloyd said: "The Angling Trust wants to ensure that the announcement of a new UK Fisheries Bill delivers opportunities for the UK to become a world leader in sea fisheries management by recognising and harnessing the potential social and economic contribution to a post-Brexit UK of a vibrant recreational fishing sector and the principle of public access to publicly-owned sea fisheries resources. However, there is a danger that ministers simply cave in to commercial pressure and swap one regime of over fishing for another."

The government’s own report ‘Sea Angling 2012’ concluded that recreational sea anglers in England in 2012 spent over £1.2bn and contributed to a total overall spend of over £2bn annually employing nearly 24,000 people. These enormous economic and employment impacts are derived from a limited number of species that only generate £31 million first sale value to commercial landings. It is therefore essential that future management objectives and measures for jointly targeted species under a new UK Fisheries Bill must fully reflect the needs of the public fishing recreationally.

David Mitchell, the Angling Trust’s Head of Marine, said: “The new bill will repatriate powers to manage sea fish stocks in UK waters as we see fit. This also gives the UK the opportunity to be ‘best in class’ in sea fisheries management. If the government is serious about making a success of Brexit it must ensure that access to fish stocks for members of the public fishing recreationally is given a higher priority with measures in any new bill designed to protect and enhance the many benefits it delivers to communities throughout the country."

The Angling Trust will be publishing its post-Brexit vision for marine fisheries next month and will be campaigning to ensure that access for members of the public fishing recreationally for publicly-owned sea fish stocks is given full consideration as the details of the new Fisheries Bill are developed.

Useful links:

1. The Queen’s speech and associated background briefing, on the occasion of the opening of parliament on Wednesday 21 June 2017. Read here

2. Environmentally Responsible Fisheries Project, Cefas, 2010. Download here

3. Sea Angling 2012 Report: Armstrong, M., Brown, A., Hargreaves, J., Hyder, K., Pilgrim-Morrison, S., Munday, M., Proctor, S.,Roberts, A. and Williamson, K. 2013. Sea Angling 2012 – a survey of recreational sea angling activity and economic value in England. Available here

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