post-brexit uk sustainable fishing

Post-Brexit freedoms to deliver more support for UK sustainable fishing claims the UK Government as new plans are published today

Fisheries Management Plans will help deliver a thriving fishing industry and healthy marine environment following extensive engagement with fishing industry, claims the UK Government.

New plans to help protect and recover key fishing stocks have been published today, Thursday 14 December, with the Government saying that it is seizing on the opportunities of the UK’s post-Brexit freedoms to support coastal jobs and protect the marine environment. 

The publication of the plans is the next step in Government plans to delivering a thriving and sustainable fishing industry and healthy marine environment outside the EU. 

The first five Fisheries Management Plans set out how the government will work with the fishing industry and other stakeholders to support the long-term future and sustainable management of the UK’s fish stocks such as crab, lobster, king scallop and bass. The Government says that these Fisheries Management Plans have been developed following extensive engagement directly with the fishing industry.

The aim of these plans is to help deliver the long-term economic viability of the UK’s key commercial fishing stocks through measures such as increasing minimum conservation reference sizes or introducing seasonal or area closures to protect juvenile and spawning stocks.

Alongside the publication of the plans, the Government has also announced a further £4 million – as part of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund – to support projects for the UK’s catching sector that make improvements to boats, at ports and in health and safety.

As well as taking action at home, the UK has also formally ratified the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, a new treaty which prohibits harmful fisheries subsidies which contribute to the depletion of global fish stocks.

The Agreement means that harmful fisheries subsidies overseas that support illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing will be prohibited globally. This will help deliver sustainable fish stocks around the globe, which is the single most important thing that sustain the UK’s fishing industry, particularly for those fishing in the North Atlantic.

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:

“We are taking full advantage of our position as an independent coastal state outside the EU to deliver for the UK fishing industry and the coastal communities it supports.

“Today’s announcements are the result of direct dialogue with industry over many months, and will help to deliver sustainable stocks and a modern and profitable fishing industry for the future.”

Mike Cohen, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said:

“Fishers and fishing communities have more to lose than anyone if fish stocks are not sustainably managed. These Plans are a genuinely ambitious attempt to do that important job better.

“With knowledgeable stakeholders involved and good quality science at the heart of the process, FMPs are well placed to sustain and grow our fishing fleet’s ability to keep providing affordable, healthy, low-carbon food.”

The announcements come after the UK Government successfully negotiated access to 420,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry worth up to £700 million after reaching agreements with the EU and Norway

This brought the total fishing opportunities secured for the UK fleet in 2024 in the main negotiating forums to 750,000 tonnes – 80,000 tonnes more than in 2023 – worth up to £970 million based on historic landing prices.

Fisheries Management Plans

Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) will underpin the UK’s new world class system of fisheries management outside the EU, drawing on the best available science and the expertise of our fishermen to ensure our fish stocks are healthy and sustainable long into the future.

FMPs are the result of extensive engagement with the fishing sector, recreational anglers and other stakeholders. They set out short, medium and long-term actions to protect and improve stocks. Priority short term measures include:

  • Accelerating work to manage levels of fishing of scallop, lobster, crab and including introducing a permit scheme or licence entitlement with conditions for whelk fishing
  • Introducing new or increased Minimum Conservation References Sizes for crawfish, brill, lemon sole and turbot
  • Bringing forward a review of shore and inshore netting for bass to help reduce bycatch of bass
  • Introducing an engine restriction for fishing vessels using ‘flyseine’ fishing nets and a minimum mesh size in the Channel to protect young fish
  • Accelerating work to address the effects of mobile bottom trawl nets have on the seabed, particularly in the scallop fishery
  • Bringing stakeholders together to develop an action plan to deliver sustainable harvesting of cuttlefish
UK Seafood Fund

The government is also announcing that a further £4 million will be made available through the UK Seafood Fund to help modernise the UK commercial fishing fleet through making improvements to boats, at ports and in health and safety (in addition to the £2 million allocated earlier this year to support new, greener engines).

The funding will be made available to projects which fall into three categories that directly impact the catching sector:

  • Projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions on vessels will be eligible for grants of between £65,000 and £200,000.
  • Projects that improve infrastructure at ports will be eligible for grants of between £150,000 and £500,000.
  • Projects that improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of the workforce will be eligible for grants, starting at £100,000 for boats, and at £150,000 at ports, both up to a maximum of £500,000.

The UK Seafood Fund is already supporting nearly 200 projects across the country:

  • 52 businesses are already receiving funding to trial new, greener engines and help create a safer, more sustainable fleet.
  • 29 projects to improve infrastructure and bring social and economic benefits to coastal communities,
  • Over 100 projects delivering science and innovation through collaborative research and new technologies; and,
  • 11 projects that support the current and future skills and training needs of the sector,
  • Investing £1 million to boost seafood exports to new and existing markets.
WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

This is the first WTO treaty with an environmental sustainability focus and sets new binding, multilateral rules to prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.

The ratification of the treaty will be supported by a UK contribution of up to £1 million to the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism for targeted technical assistance and capacity building to help developing and least-developed country WTO Members implement the Agreement.

Source: Press Release

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