Government minister visiting Selsey today

Fishing boats at Selsey
Fishing boats at Selsey

MORE FREEDOM for fishermen will be announced in Selsey by a government minister today (October 19) .

A government spokesman from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) said fisheries minister George Eustice would tell an audience of Selsey fishermen about plans to help them prepare for a new ban on throwing fish back overboard.

“If we want a profitable fishing industry and thriving coastal communities in the future it is vital that we fish sustainably today,” Mr Eustice will say.

“That is why the reforms we have secured to the common fisheries policy, which will put an end to the shameful practice of throwing perfectly good fish overboard, are so important.

“It is essential that we ban the practice of discarding fish, but we are also committed to introducing new flexibilities to help fishermen manage their quotas and will be giving more quota to the under 10 metre fleet.”

The ‘demersal discard ban’—which will come into effect from January, 2016, for fishermen targeting species such as haddock, sole and plaice—follows the successful introduction of a ‘pelagic’ ban in January.

The spokesman said the freedom to bank and borrow quota and funding for new gear under the £43m European maritime and fisheries fund would be announced.

This follows a consultation with industry and the government’s response sets out plans to help fishermen adapt to the ban through:

-Increased quotas from the European Commission – to take account of the fact that discarding should no longer be occurring.

-More freedom to bank, borrow or swap quotas – to give fishermen more flexibility over their business.

- Exemptions – based on the survivability of a species once caught.

The spokesman added: “The discard ban is one of the most important changes to fisheries management in the last decade and follows three years of hard-fought, UK-led negotiations where the government achieved international agreements to fish at sustainable levels, ban discarding, decentralise decision-making – giving the UK more powers to manage our own fishing industry.”

The gradual introduction of the ban in phases will allow the government to monitor its progress and the impact on fishermen, helping to avoid disproportionate costs and adapt to the industry’s needs, he said.

Fishermen can expect to receive increased quotas from the European Commission to take account of the fact they will not be throwing away fish. The government will be allocating the first 100 tonnes of any additional quota received—and ten per cent of anything more on top of this 100 tonnes—to the English inshore fleet.

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