Fishermen face a hard year after further cuts

C141053-1 Selsey Harbour  phot kate  John Reeves and Guss Arnell taking their catch ashore.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C141053-1 SUS-141125-161722001
C141053-1 Selsey Harbour phot kate John Reeves and Guss Arnell taking their catch ashore.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C141053-1 SUS-141125-161722001

FISHERMEN have been dealt another blow after ministers reduced limits even further for 2015.

Quotas - the number of fish species allowed to be caught each year - have been set by European Union fisheries ministers for the next year and further reductions have been made on two of this area’s main species.

Tony Delahunty, a Selsey fishermen who is also chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said the quota was reduced by 10 per cent for plaice and 28 per cent for soles.

“That was the worst for us in this area,” he said.

“As the year progresses, it’s going to be hard.”

The ministers set the new quotas in December after hearing from all interested bodies, including fishermen, scientists and environmental groups.

The agreement was the first time ministers set catch levels on the basis of scientific advice,

Tony said he and others are still on tenterhooks to discover what the new management measures will be on bass.

This will be the first year fishing ministers have felt they need to put measures on that species as it previously was not considered to be endangered by fishing.

This is an important species for fishermen in this area.

“This is the first management on that species,” said Tony. “That will be a big announcement for us.”

Ministers will make an announcement in the next couple of weeks informing of the new management measures.

Despite these issues, Tony felt that things could have been much worse had ministers followed scientists’ and environmentalists’ recommendations and not listened to the NFFO’s arguments.

For example, scientists had advised ministers to reduce the quota for soles by 60 per cent, not 28.

Ministers also opted to increase the quota for cod by five per cent despite scientists advising a 20 percent cut, according to the research centre Pew.

Tony said: “We made a strong case. Skates and rays was a big battle for us and they’ve continued with the same quota as last year, so no cut.

“It was better than expected.”

Environmental groups have said they think the quotas for 2015 are too low and would fail to save species from becoming endangered.

But Tony said they have been too cautious in their predictions.

“They were asking for massive cuts which aren’t needed on that level.”

The Observer reported last year that Peter Williams, the only fisherman left in Emsworth, was having to sell his home after quotas were suddenly reduced at the end of 2014.

The father-of-one said at the time: “We are just being left to rot and this is all to mismanagement from above

“We’ve been destroyed over the last three years.”

Ministers have attempted to put an end to the practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea.

They have told fishermen they must keep all unwanted dead fish on board and count them towards their quotas.

Previously fishermen would discard any fish they caught which they id not want or which had already been fished passed its quota.

Tony said this change should not affect fishermen in this area as it is mostly the larger fishing team which have to discard large quantities of fish.