future fisheries management live folkstone NUTFA financial support under-10m

Jerry Percy, Director of NUTFA has written a letter to DEFRA expressing concerns regarding financial support for the Under-10m in 2024. Photo: MMO

Concerns Raised Over Future of Inshore Fishing: NUTFA Appeals to DEFRA for Urgent Support

Jerry Percy, Director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA), has written a letter to DEFRA expressing grave concerns on behalf of its members regarding their future in 2024.

In the face of dire circumstances, Percy urges DEFRA to acknowledge the dire situation faced by many inshore fishermen.

In his letter, Percy expresses gratitude for a recent teleconference addressing the challenges confronting inshore fishermen heavily reliant on pollack. He emphasises the need for NUTFA to ensure that the voices of those who couldn’t attend are not overlooked. He writes that a separate report on the financial significance of pollack for many inshore fishermen will be submitted by Sarah Ready.

Percy outlines the multitude of challenges facing inshore fishermen, including a general reduction in fishing opportunities, the impact of large-scale fly seining on non-quota species, strict medical requirements imposed by the MCA, high fuel prices, and more. These pressures have led many to contemplate leaving commercial fishing, causing the market value of secondhand boats to plummet.

The letter highlights the inadequacy of the Fishing Quota Allocation (FQA) system, particularly for inshore fishermen who employ sustainable methods with minimal bycatch and no dead discards. Percy calls for DEFRA to include social, economic, and environmental criteria in the allocation process, citing Section 25 of the Fisheries Act 2020.

Percy underscores the impact of recreational sea angling, especially charter boats, on pollack stocks. He urges DEFRA to avoid imposing draconian cuts on the inshore commercial sector while overlooking the unregulated recreational effort.

The letter emphasises that the effects on fishermen extend beyond financial concerns, with mental health taking a toll due to various challenges. Percy suggests providing mental health support and aid for those facing potential bankruptcy.

Addressing the potential loss of knowledge, skills, traditions, and culture if fishermen go bankrupt, Percy urges DEFRA to consider the broader impact on coastal communities and the economy. He proposes interim measures such as access to other species and financial support for changing fishing systems.

Percy concludes by referencing DEFRA’s 2027 Fisheries Vision, emphasising the importance of small-scale fishing vessels for economic, social, and environmental benefits. NUTFA offers assistance and calls on DEFRA to provide urgent advice and information to those affected, ensuring informed decisions and dispelling baseless rumours.

DEFRA is urged to recognise the urgency and gravity of the situation and to persuade the government to provide immediate and substantial support.

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