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Commercial Fishing



Cornish fishermen face big challenges ahead for 2019, according to the Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation.

In an article on the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) website, he said full implementation of the EU’s landing obligation from the 1 January 2019, meant it was more important than ever  that ministers deliver sustainable, workable and effective outcomes for south-west Fishermen.

He added that at the recent end-of-the year Fisheries Council in Brussels, it was clear that UK ministers did have a good understanding of  priorities and challenges facing south-west fishermen.

“The Council outcomes contained some important gains for the south-west, including significant improvements in quotas like Western hake (increased 28%), megrim sole (increased by 47%) and rollover quotas for pollack and saithe in area 7,” said Mr Trebilcock.

For Celtic Sea Cod (ICES area 7e-k), the principle that zero catch advice could not be compatible with the landing obligation was quickly conceded by the Commission.

“If followed literally, zero catch advice in mixed fisheries would result in vessels being immediately choked and have to cease fishing in the Celtic Sea early in the year,” explained Mr Trebilcock.

Ultimately agreement was reached around a package including:

  • 48% reduction from 2018 TAC, to a level below that which would meet by-catch landings in 2018 by south-west fishermen
  • A further 6% of the quota having to be made available for quota exchanges with member states that do not have a current quota allocation
  • Quota exchanges and further selectivity measures (both technical and area based) during the first part of 2019 as ways of addressing the concerns raised.

Mr Trebilcock said: “This complicated and unsatisfactory outcome presents a potentially massive challenge for south-west fishermen in the year ahead.

“In view of the problems ahead, the UK has already called for a review of the 2019 TAC for Celtic Sea cod early in the new-year. The reviewed TAC should reflect the landing statistics in 2018 as applied within the ICES Celtic Sea mixed fisheries model. An upward revision would go some way to mitigating the very real choke risk.”

For bass, Mr Trebilcock said some recognition of improving stock status was reflected in the final agreement.

“However, the final agreement did not take on board or reflect the strong and credible arguments put forward by the NFFO to alleviate the pointless discarding of dead bass in the ultra-mixed trawl fisheries in the south-west. The 1% by-catch provision that remains in place from 2018 will see a continuation of discarding of unavoidable dead by-catch of bass with little or no effect on mortality of bass in these fisheries.

“This was a big disappointment but discussions have already begun with DEFRA on how to address this going forward both in terms of re-visiting this during 2019 and of course in the post Brexit era.”