Fishermen in the south west may still be forced out of the industry despite the Government securing what it claimed was a “fair deal” at European talks to agree new quotas, Plymouth Fisheries manager, Pete Bromley, has warned.
Industry expert Bromley, who manages England’s second largest fresh fish market in Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour, said that while the outcome of the EU council meeting was not as devastating as initially feared, the long-term impact of the new deal would still have far-reaching negative effects.
The EU Fisheries and Agriculture Council meeting ended late last night (Dec 16) with the British Government having secured the same quota as last year for many species, including monkfish, megrim and pollock in the south west, as well as skates and rays around the UK.
simple economics means once again, fishermen will be worse off
Cuts were agreed to other quotas however, with a 10% reduction to channel-caught plaice and sole, and the loss of 26% of cod, 14% whiting and 12% haddock – all pelagic fish regularly caught and landed at ports in Devon and Cornwall. Much of this fish being caught by West Country fishermen will now be dumped at sea in order for fishermen to meet the reduced quotas.
Bromley said: “The new quotas are the best result for the south west fishing industry that we could have hoped for from what is now accepted to be a bad management system, and admittedly not the disaster we first feared.
“But whilst they may not herald the demise of the industry entirely, they will still increase the pressure on fishermen already struggling to operate viable businesses.
“Maintaining the quota of some species at the same level as last year might be seen as a ‘win’ but the operating costs of fishing vessels in the coming year doesn’t stay the same; costs like fuel and fishing nets inevitably increase.
“Therefore simple economics means once again, fishermen will be worse off – and in some cases, possibly forced out of the industry or face having to reduce the number of their crew to stay viable.”
However, Greenpeace feels the cuts haven’t gone far enough. Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner, Ariana Densham, said: “It is unacceptable that many of the fishing quotas agreed today will fail to end overfishing.
“Fisheries ministers have ignored the science and given no justification for postponing action to recover fish stocks.”