The Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association slams the UK government’s decision to ban all sandeel fishing in English waters of the North Sea
The leader of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association has slated the UK and Scottish governments’ decision to ban all sandeel fishing in UK waters of the North Sea, saying that it was driven by NGOs and not science.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Mairi Gougeon announced that sandeel fishing will be prohibited in Scottish waters of the North Sea (Area 4) ahead of the 2024 season pending a parliamentary vote on 05 February next. This follows on from an a similar announcement made today for English waters of the North Sea.
Under new Nature Recovery Measures, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced that from April, sandeel fisheries in the English waters of the North Sea will see a permanent closure.
Sandeel is classified as an important forage food for seabirds such as puffins, and marine mammals such as harbour porpoises. It is also an important food source for fish species such as haddock and whiting.
There has been a campaign in recent years to bring about a ban of the fishing of sandeel, and in Scotland, a consultation took place from 24 July to 13 October 2023.
There has been a temporary ban in place on the fishing of sandeel in both English and Scottish waters, but this now brings in a blanket ban on the fishery.
Reacting to the news of the ban, Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, said:
“This is a political decision, driven by unrelenting NGO pressure.
“The reality is that ICES includes ecosystem considerations in their advice on sandeels. That includes taking into account forage feed for birds and other marine species. Their advice has never advocated the permanent closure of sandeel fisheries.
“Regardless, the UK has not issued sandeel quota to the UK fleet since Brexit, while EU vessels have managed to fish on. At least now we have parity.
“One business in particular is impacted by this decision – and to date there has been no discussion on compensation for a policy decision taken by governments north and south of the border.”
Source: Press Release