pollack CFPO government support

The CFPO has welcomed UK government engagement and support for fishermen affected by the prohibition on pollack fishing

The Chief Executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO), Chris Ranford has welcomed the government’s announcement of a compensation scheme for UK fishermen affected by the prohibition on targeted pollack fishing in Area 7.

Fishermen most impacted by restrictions placed on the catching of pollack will be able to take advantage of a new compensation scheme announced by the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay on Wednesday 10 April. The news of the financial support comes after engagement with industry leaders such as the CFPO.

Speaking after the Environment Minister’s announcement, the CFPO Chief Executive said:

CFPO Pollack support government

Chris Ranford, CEO of the CFPO

“It is positive to see the continued government attention on finding solutions to the ongoing challenges as a result of the current restrictions on the pollack fishery. Creating some financial support for part of the fleet will no doubt be welcomed by those eligible for compensation and we await to see the full details of the scheme before offering further thoughts.

“In our efforts to improve the long-term management of the pollack stock, we have since been working closely with the UK government and – as it is a jointly managed stock – the EU. Earlier in the year the CFPO co-hosted a workshop with a diverse range of CFPO members, fisheries managers and scientists to discuss the necessary science and data needs to improve the understanding of the stock. The CFPO remains proactive in finding pragmatic solutions to managing the pollack fishery.”

The compensation scheme will mean around 50 vessel owners will directly get compensated for half their income lost due to the bycatch-only pollack fishery.

In June 2023, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) provided advice that, for pollack in Western waters, the Total Allowable Catch for 2024 should be set at zero for the first time to ensure the long-term sustainability of the stock. In annual negotiations with the EU, the UK secured a large bycatch TAC for this stock, with around 200 tonnes for the UK. 

Around 50 vessel owners rely on pollack for at least 30% of their fishing income. These are mostly small, 10-metre and under, inshore vessels using handlines. The bycatch-only advice means they cannot target pollack in 2024, causing some vessels to cease operations and lose all or some of their income.

Under the compensation scheme set out by the Secretary of State, those who were reliant on pollack for at least 30% of their 2023 income will receive compensation equal to 50% of the total value of pollack landings they made in 2023 in Western Waters (Area 7). Income will be verified using landings data held by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The fallout from the prohibition on pollack fishing has led the CFPO to write a white paper on pollack management entitled’ How an ecosystem approach could inform more intelligent management of the perceived decline in the pollack stock.”

The CFPO suggests that an ecosystem-based management approach could offer a more effective response, incorporating strengthened stock assessment, a recovery and management plan informed by industry collaboration, and promotion of more intelligent management measures. This multistranded ‘holistic’ approach aims to rebuild pollack stocks while minimising adverse consequences and ensuring industry involvement in decision-making processes by:

  • Strengthening the stock assessment through fisheries/science collaboration to understand stock identity and range, and both biomass and fishing mortality trends, including catches by recreational anglers
  • A recovery and management plan over, say 4 years supported and informed by the fishing industry; this would replace an 87% TAC reduction by staged, more manageable TAC levels and accompanying measures to ensure that a reduction in fishing pressure is actually achieved
  • Identification and promotion of less blunt more intelligent management measures. These could include spatial measures, included active avoidance measures and where possible selectivity measures

The CFPO believes a staged approach would allow fishing businesses time to adjust whilst still moving towards management objectives, whilst also minimising adverse social and economic shocks that tend to generate unpredictable responses.

The white paper suggested that an alienated sector, out of sympathy with fisheries managers or management measures will not be committed to compliance, in the way it would if involved in the development and application of solutions.

“All this points to the need for an agreed framework for rebuilding the pollack stocks whilst minimising the adverse consequences,” the paper concludes.

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