Cutting quotas - the best deal for fishermen

ANOTHER VIEW

Share
Related Topics
The story of Cornish fishermen accepting government money for leaving their industry has been highlighted in the Independent's columns. They are among the 164 boats that have been accepted for decommissioning this year, and join those that were successful in the first two years of the scheme. A total of pounds 53m has been made available for this by the Government over five years.

It might seem paradoxical that an important part of the Government's policy for securing a healthy and confident fishing industry is to take measures that obviously lead to pain and some unemployment in communities already under pressure. I know it certainly isn't a cheap policy. It is, however, a necessary one.

Fisheries scientists, both in this country and abroad, tell us that many of our most important stocks are at their lowest historic levels. Indeed, they recommend that catches of plaice and herring in the North Sea and mackerel around our shores be cut by nearly half next year in order to avoid the risk of these stocks disappearing into economic extinction. At all costs we need to avoid the situation that occurred in Canada's Grand Banks where stocks of cod, once internationally famous, have been literally "fished out".

The problem is of too many fishermen, with increasingly sophisticated equipment to find and catch the remaining stocks, chasing too few fish. Conservation - to ensure there are fish for tomorrow's fishermen as well as today's - is the reason that European fisheries ministers have, in recent years, set targets for each member state to reduce their overall fishing "effort". The UK's current means of reducing effort is paying fishermen to leave the industry; the alternative, of restricting the number of days each and every boat can spend at sea, having proved understandably unpopular with the industry.

In pursuing the policy we need to bear in mind that the communities affected need time to adapt. Newlyn has had 16 boats accepted for decommissioning this year. One should not underestimate the impact of this on the locality and there is a need to proceed gradually; equally, there needs to be stability in fisheries management from one year to the next, avoiding sharp changes in quotas as far as we can.

Next year, fisheries ministers will discuss a further round of targets for member states to bring their fleets more into line with available supplies of fish; I will be seeking the best possible deal for our fishermen. Opponents of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is being debated in the House of Commons today, should realise that if there was no CFP, it would have to be invented. Fish know no national boundaries, so only by international agreement can the issue of conservation, without which the industry has no future, be properly dealt with.

The writer is Fisheries Minister.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud back in 2010  

The media cannot ignore tricky questions when someone dies. But it must stick to the facts

Will Gore
SEEN graffiti Wonder Woman  

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution

Matthew James
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us