Cove fishermen press Minister on commonsense policy
A delegation of cove fishermen from West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly met Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, in Westminster today to urge the Minister not to go ahead with damaging policy changes.
The delegation, led by, Andrew George MP, included representatives from coves on the Lizard, Porthleven, St Ives Bay, Newlyn and the Scillies. They will ask the Minister to rethink his policy which they believe will restrict fishing opportunities for under 10 metre vessels and for him to show greater flexibility when introducing new conservation areas.
Mr George said, “These fishermen have the lowest impact on the marine environment and yet are the most regulated. Because United Kingdom authorities have less power to police fishing waters beyond the six mile limit, it is those cove fishermen who can only fish within a limited return day trip from their cove who are affected by many of these regulations. I hope the Minister will listen carefully. Because, as presently drafted many fishermen fear the proposals will succeed in damaging both fish stocks and fishermen’s livelihoods.
“None of these boats have the power to do the damage that some larger vessels do. Many make a living purely from simple hand lines; something which has to be the lowest impact fishing method of all. Fishermen are genuinely worried that this could be the last straw and could put many out of business. We all hope that the Minister is listening.”
Fishermen from West Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly who met Government Minister Richard Benyon MP at Defra headquarters today said that they were pleased with the outcome. Their local MP, Andrew George, led the delegation to take up concerns on behalf of fisherman from around the coast of West Cornwall who primarily ply their trade within the six mile zone.
The fishermen in the delegation were Dave Muirhead (Chair of Cadgwith & Helford Fishermens Association & Chair of the Cornish Handliner’s Association), Chris Bean, Anthony Hosking (both of whom fish from Helford) and Robert Francis (Chair of Isles of Scilly Fishermen’s Association). They tackled the Minister on concerns about changes to the inshore fish quota allocation system, the high mortality of cod which is in greater abundance around the Cornish coast than in living memory, the heavy regulations which they have to endure and the damaging impact of foreign vessels which they feel abuse their historic rights when bringing powerful trawlers right up to the six mile limit.
The Minister said that he would look carefully at their proposals for a community managed quota pool for inshore fishermen, the possible redesign of fishing log books and that he would be taking up their concerns about extending national control out to the twelve mile limit when discussing the future of the Common Fisheries Policy with fellow European Fisheries Ministers.
The meeting will be followed up with further discussions with government officials to advance the possibility of a pilot fish quota management system and other matters.
In addition, the drawing up of Marine Conservation Zones is something which Mr Benyon said would be undertaken with care and consideration for the future commercial viability of the Cornish and Scillonion inshore fishing fleet.
Mr George said:
‘We were pleased with the meeting. There is now a lot of work to be done to build on the proposals for a better system of quota allocation and management and to put pressure on future negotiations for the Common Fisheries Policy and designation of Marine Conservation Zones.’