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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

 

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments