FUTURE OF THE UK’S FISHING INDUSTRY PUBLISHED

UK: PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE UK’S FISHING INDUSTRY PUBLISHED Fisheries Ministers today published measures to help bring about profitable and sustainable Sea Fisheries in a thriving marine environment.

Securing the Benefits responds to recommendations made in the Net Benefits report published last year by the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. The Prime Minister commissioned Net Benefits after the state of cod stocks led to the introduction in 2003 of limitations on the time fishing vessels could spend at sea, and in turn to significant decommissioning of UK boats.

Securing the Benefits has been developed by the four fisheries administrations of the UK. It sets out a range of measures to secure a sustainable future for the fishing industry including:

* on the Common Fisheries Policy, seeking simpler rules and stronger focus on regional management, and helping members of Regional Advisory Councils to maximise their contribution to the Councils’ work;
* making more use of fishermen’s information in the assessment of fish stocks;
* developing on a regional basis a shared understanding with the fishing industry of what is needed to enable the different parts of the fleet to be profitable, considering where relevant the need for further selective decommissioning;
* improving arrangements for quota management in the UK, for example to provide greater clarity about the ownership of quota. This should help businesses plan for the future;
* using grants to help the fishing industry apply to the Marine Stewardship Council or other organisations for certification that particular fisheries are sustainable.

The Prime Minister said:

“I welcome this response. I am grateful to all those who gave their time to work out the next steps in the development of a modern and sustainable fishing industry. We can give a lead to this process during our Presidency of the EU, focussing on simplifying EU rules and strengthening the regional focus of the management of fish stocks.”

Marine & Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said:

“Securing the Benefits sets out how we intend to achieve a, profitable fishing industry while protecting the wider marine environment. It has been developed in close partnership with the fishing industry and other interested groups. We will maintain that partnership as we deliver the actions we have mapped out.

Mr Finnie, Scottish Fisheries Minister said:

“The fishing industry is of particular importance in Scotland. The measures we are taking forward together with UK partners will make a real contribution to securing its future. I am also setting out a number of additional measures which Scottish Ministers will be taking together with our industry and others to ensure that Scotland’s Sea Fisheries are sustainable, profitable and well managed”.

The Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside Carwyn Jones said

“Fisheries in Wales are an important part of the rural economy. The Net Benefits exercise gave the Welsh Assembly Government the opportunity to work more closely with the Welsh industry and this partnership will now be taken forward in the production of a Welsh Fisheries Strategy.”

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland has also published a response on Inshore Fisheries Reform in Northern Ireland. Lord Rooker, Minister for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland, said:

“My administration looks forward to working closely with the other UK Fisheries Departments and stakeholders to deliver the actions and strategies outlined in the response.

My Department also recognises the importance of inshore fisheries and, in Northern Ireland, we shall undertake a full review of inshore fisheries management commencing Autumn 2005 and, following the review, will establish a standing inshore stakeholder advisory group to advise on development and management issues related to the inshore sector”

Notes to Editors

Net Benefits
Following a meeting with fishing industry representatives in January 2003, the Prime Minister asked the Strategy Unit to carry out a review of options for a sustainable UK fishing industry in the medium to long term. The review was carried out from March to November 2003 and involved extensive consultation with all parts of the UK fishing industry and other stakeholders.

Net Benefits, published on 25 March 2004, gave the Strategy Unit’s analysis of the problems and opportunities now facing the UK fishing industry. It recommended a range of initiatives to achieve a sustainable and profitable future for the industry.

Net Benefits was presented to government. It was not a statement of policy of government. Given the extent of devolution of fishing responsibilities within the UK, the recommendations were presented to the Devolved Administrations as well as to the UK Government. The four Fisheries Ministers in the UK welcomed the analysis and called for collaborative engagement between officials and stakeholders to determine a new way forward.

Stakeholder Involvement
Net Benefits urged the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations to hold discussions with all stakeholders, to establish in detail how those changes should be delivered in practice.

Working Groups

Officials from the four Fisheries Administrations across the UK, working jointly, convened three working groups with stakeholders to examine the Net Benefits recommendations in detail.

Sub Working Groups

Sub groups were formed to examine particular topics in greater detail. They have between them looked in detail at the majority of the Net Benefits recommendations, (the exception being those recommendations concerned with the inshore and shellfish sectors, on which each of the four fisheries administrations is moving forward on its own account).

Stakeholder Advisory Group
In addition, there have been meetings of a high level Stakeholder Advisory Group, commenting on the views coming out of the Working Groups and the emerging thinking of the fisheries administrations on all aspects of the Net Benefits recommendations.

The General Public
A more general call for views was put out at the start of the engagement, minutes of engagement meetings have been placed on a website, and a number of meetings have been held with small groups of stakeholders.

Continuing Work
The Fisheries Administrations have devised this programme of actions and initiatives out in this joint response taking full account of stakeholders’ views. Whilst it is of course the case that not every stakeholder interest will agree with every element of the response, we trust that stakeholders will recognise that the Programme has been conceived as a balanced package and we invite them to continue to collaborate as it is delivered in detail.

A copy of the response to the Net Benefits report can be found via the following link:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/fish/sea/sfp

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