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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Fishing in the heat on the river Amo, Pisa style.

Sited on the mouth of the river Amo, the Italian city of Pisa straddles is a fishing area known as Boccadarno...

with its net fishing stations called Retoni...

although tit seems these days the roadside fish market and stalls are little used...

to sort, clean and prepare for sale...

the fish caught in the nets...

which are lowered just a few feet under the water and a small net brail is used to retrieve the catch from the centre of the net when it is raised...

one local fisherman prefers to use a 'pedalo' style canoe to fish or bream which are the most prized fish to target...

the brail is swung and dropped into the middle of the net after the haul has been made...

local shore cabs wait for their chance...

the net is lowered just under the surface...

two of the Retoni...

are watched over by anglers also looking to catch bream...

the fishermen's huts have seen better days...

the video shows how the catch is retrieved from the raised net.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

A wake-up call for EU fisheries ministers?

It would be interesting to see if many of the the fishermen who work the North Sea for cod agree with either the findings of ICES or this article written in response to those findings.

The latest scientific advice from The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) makes for sad reading - North Sea cod is severely depleted. However, this could be just what is needed to shock EU fisheries ministers into action, write Rebecca Hubbard and Dr Monica Verbeek.

Half a century of overfishing, including a devastating crash of the North Sea cod fishery in the nineties, should have been warning enough that we cannot negotiate nature’s limits.

Unfortunately not. Now ICES is advising that North Sea cod populations are at such depleted levels, that there should be a 70 percent cut to fishing limits in 2020, compared to 2019.

The need to drastically reduce fishing of North Sea Cod will be a disaster for many fishers. In many ways it is also a political disaster for fisheries ministers.

Why? Because the need for such a low catch limit could have been prevented if decision makers had listened to what scientists have been telling them for years.

Relevant articles:

  • Turning the tide

  • Quality on tap

  • MEPs praise new single-use plastics rules to tackle marine litter

  • Common Fisheries Policy reform: Consistency is key

  • EU lifts Thailand’s yellow card on tackling illegal fishing

  • EU Ombudsman urged to probe Commission support of pulse fishing

  • Fisheries ministers have not been listening, but they must now pay attention.

    There is no good excuse for not ending overfishing. EU fisheries ministers are in charge, and it can and must be done - not least at the coming EU council meetings in October and December, where fisheries ministers will agree on catch limits for the Baltic and North East Atlantic.

    They must face up to the consequences of their poor record on protecting the fish populations that underpin the health of European Seas, not only in the North Sea but in all European waters, and change their ways now.

    The EU has committed to end overfishing of all fish populations by 2015 or progressively by 2020 at the latest.

    However, with just six months to go, consistent stonewalling by fisheries ministers and a refusal to follow the science has led to a situation where iconic fish like North Sea cod is again facing collapse, and our ocean ecosystems are suffering.

    The good news is that it can, in fact, be changed and the benefits from doing so are numerous.

    “Our children are protesting against the biodiversity and climate emergency that we have created - and yet EU governments have continued to ignore this fact by undermining the ocean ecosystems that underpin life on earth”

    Restoring fish populations is vital for food security and the continued possibility to catch and eat fish for generations to come, but healthy fish populations are more than that. They play a key role in keeping marine ecosystems balanced as a whole.

    The ocean gives us more than half of the oxygen we breathe, regulates the global climate, has captured a third of the carbon we have emitted, and has absorbed 90 percent of the extra heat we have generated.

    We need the ocean healthy. If it is, it will be one of our closest allies in combating the climate crisis.

    Our children are protesting against the biodiversity and climate emergency that we have created - and yet EU governments have continued to ignore this fact by undermining the ocean ecosystems that underpin life on earth.

    Short-term business profits for a few fishing industry players are being politically prioritised over nature, healthy coastal communities, food security and a healthy ocean that can adapt to the climate emergency.

    EU fisheries ministers must wake up and become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

    Let’s change history for the better. It can be done, but only if we start now.

    About the author:
    Rebecca Hubbard is Program Director at Our Fish and Dr Monica Verbeek is Executive Director at Seas At Risk

    Monday, 29 July 2019

    Bay de Seine “Scallops War” averted by careful negotiations and compromise on both sides

    SWFPO's Jim Portus reports that an Anglo-French deal has been agreed for 2019.

    The deal, arrived at after extended and often intense industry to industry talks, will avert a repeat of the ugly scenes of 2018, when French scallopers attacked British boats fishing for scallops (legally) in the Bay de Seine at a time when it was closed to Frenchmen.

    Under the 2019 Accord, first brokered at a meeting between the two sides in Ghent on 2nd July, the entire east Channel scallop fishery will close to both sides on 1st August. Then, on 1st October, the waters of the east Channel will open to UK scallopers north of a line drawn 24 miles off the coast of France, or the “Median line” between the 2 nations, whichever is the closer to France. French scallopers will fish south of that line from 1st October. The “open season” will prevail from 0001 19th October, when the 2 fleets will inter-mingle without hostility.

    The accord will not apply to any UK vessels of smaller than 15 metres in length. They will be free to roam as in all previous years.

    In return, the French will transfer an amount of “Western Waters Scallop Effort” that the UK requires to enable its fleet of larger vessels to exploit fisheries in more distant parts of the ICES Area 7 without the risk of exhausting restricted and limited days at sea.

    Jim Portus said, “This deal for 2019 was made in the face of great pressure to avoid repeating the “Scallop Wars” of 2018 and 2012. Last year the intransigence of the French led to stalled negotiations and an open fishery that ought to have been closed by consent. The UK boats did as they were legally allowed. Eventually the French returned to the talks and we brokered a deal.
    This year I was determined to keep the French in talks until we had a settlement agreeable to both sides. Compromise was required by UK and France alike. Both sides moved from entrenched positions to centre ground and I think we have the best that could be done.

    A “Scallop War” has been averted for 2019.

    Sunday, 28 July 2019

    Poor seamanship or lack of due care and attention? - either way, dangerous.

    The Belgian beam trawler Rubens Z67 (seen here in Newlyn a few years ago) forced a Cornish trawler to run off the warps of her trawls in order to save both boats becoming entangled by their respective gear. This was potentially life threatening as the larger and much more powerful Belgian boat towed her heavy beam trawls directly over the trawl bridles and net of the smaller vessel.  Under such circumstances such a small trawler has no choice other than to run off the warps so that the boat does not capsize.  Videoing the incident might help in any legal action but almost impossible under the circumstances with a small crew focussed wholly on preserving the boat and their lives.

    Saturday, 27 July 2019


    The Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today delivered a boost for innovation in the UK fishing and seafood industries with the opening of a new £10m research and development fund.

    The move paves the way for the potential use of artificial intelligence by fishermen and providing a potential double return on investment for the UK economy.

    With the UK fishing industry contributing around £1.4bn to our economy, employing over 24,000 people, there is huge opportunity for innovation to improve the technology available across the sector.

    Unlike existing funding programmes, the Seafood Innovation Fund will focus on delivering longer-term, cutting-edge innovation.

    UK businesses are already developing satellite technology and virtual watch rooms to track vessel movements, and integrating lighting into fishing nets to reduce unwanted catch and improve efficiency. But with the global fishing industry worth nearly £300bn, this fund will encourage further technological development and unlock export opportunities around the world for UK technology pioneers.

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: £This government is investing record amounts in research and development, with this £10m fund further driving UK innovation.

    “As the UK establishes itself as an independent coastal state, the Seafood Innovation Fund will bring together our world-leading fishing, seafood, and technology industries to deliver more sustainable and productive fisheries for the future.”

    Dr Joanna Cox, Head of Policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology said: “This fund is a ‘call to action’ for fishermen and engineers to work together to bring forward sustainable and productive solutions at scale to the industry’s greatest challenges.

    “Technology continues to deliver transformational change across the food sector, for instance, boosting the UK farming sector through AI and robotics. We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement and urge the UK engineering community to apply the same pioneering zeal to positively impact the UK’s seafood industries through this £10m Seafood Innovation Fund.”

    Full story courtesy of BusinessLeader.

    Friday, 19 July 2019

    A Taste for Sustainability? APPG Event Explores Marketing and Certification for UK Seafood

    Contact: All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries Secretariat

    Parliamentarians and representatives from across the fisheries sector met in Westminster to discuss marketing of UK seafood. The Marketing and Certification event arranged by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries discussed consumer preferences for sustainable products and how the seafood industry is responding, including via certification.

    UK consumers bought 467,000 tonnes of seafood in 2017, with the ‘big five’ species (cod, tuna, haddock, salmon and prawns) making up the lion’s share. These British favourites are predominantly imported, yet demand for alternative species – many caught in UK waters – is steadily growing. This is in tandem with increasing demand for seafood that is certified as sustainable or caught following best practice. With so many factors affecting certification, consumption habits and retail trends, the APPG’s inter-industry event sparked great interest.

    The event was chaired by Melanie Onn, MP for Great Grimsby and Co-Chair of the APPG. With strong connections to the seafood industry through Grimsby’s world-leading processors and fish markets, Onn frequently represents the fisheries sector in Parliament. A diverse panel were invited to offer their perspectives on how certification, seafood guides and business engagement can support sustainable seafood from sea to plate.

    “Certification has a crucial role to play in safeguarding our seas and contributing to the health of the world's oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices,” says Erin Priddle, Programme Director for the UK and Ireland at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). She highlighted how certification can ensure traceability throughout the seafood supply chain.

    The MSC is the most influential seafood certification body in the UK and worldwide, but attendees indicated that there is also room for a range of seafood certification approaches across the sector, including some better suited to encompass smaller-scale operators.

    Cornwall Good Seafood Guide’s Matt Slater discussed how regional sustainable seafood guides can complement larger initiatives, but stressed that a lack of data makes compiling such guides difficult. He added that “[we] want to encourage more people to buy locally sourced fish from sustainable stocks, but one of the biggest current barriers to our work is the lack of published, high quality, scientific data to enable accurate assessments.”

    Ruth Westcott of Sustainable Fish Cities echoed the sentiment, calling for more data to facilitate sustainable seafood in the UK. She stated that “data deficiency is one of the main reasons that much of the fish caught in UK waters isn’t judged to be sustainable.”

    A packed room, filled with Parliamentarians, environmental NGOs, industry and retail representatives, certification experts and more, challenged presenters on affordability of certification schemes, highlighted concerns around consumer perceptions of seafood, and explored retail’s role in driving new, sustainable trends.

    Key to this, the attendees suggested, is having a clear and consistent message about what sustainable produce is, so that the full spectrum of retailers, businesses and consumers have all the information they need when considering sustainable seafood.

    The next APPG meeting will cover the social and economic sustainability of the UK fleet, and will take place in the Autumn. All involved in the industry are invited to attend. A detailed report, covering meeting outcomes and proposed routes to progress, will be available shortly via the APPG website – www.fisheriesappg.org – and newsletter (sign up athttps://www.fisheriesappg.org/contact).


    Notes to Editors

    APPG Secretariat Contact

    Please contact the secretariat for additional information, quotes and images.

    About the APPG on Fisheries

    The APPG on Fisheries is a neutral, cross-party forum for debate, discussion and learning within Parliament. The Group was founded by MPs and Peers who want to promote and support a sustainable and ambitious UK fishing industry, whilst exploring key questions for the future of fishing, processing, coastal communities and the marine environment.

    About the marketing and certification event

    The APPG on Fisheries event, ‘Marketing and Certification,’ was held in Westminster on Tuesday 16 July. The meeting, chaired by Melanie Onn MP, addressed the changing seafood market and how the UK seafood sector can effectively respond. Speakers from across the UK shared their insight into the challenges of marketing and certification and each outlined a number of ways forward.

    Discussions covered the growing role of sustainability-based certification schemes and guides at a national and regional level, the evolution of marketing UK produce, and challenging consumer misconceptions.

    A policy brief on event outcomes will be available following the meeting.

    Further details


          Erin Priddle (Marine Stewardship Council, Programme Director for UK & Ireland) – Erin discussed the MSC certification process, including their Fisheries Standard and Chain of Custody (which provides traceability through the seafood supply chain), and how MSC certification applies to UK fisheries and products.

          Matt Slater (Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, Seafood Sustainability Officer) – Matt covered the role of regional seafood guides recommending sustainable species and sellers, and how these can complement large-scale enterprises. He also talked about consumer attitudes to locally sourced and sustainable seafood.

          Ruth Westcott (Sustainable Fish Cities, Project Officer) – Ruth talked about the disjunct between UK supply and demand of sustainable seafood, and how this interacts with the economy of the UK fishing fleet and international trade. She also discussed the role of governance, business and certification in helping remedy this.

    Interviews with speakers

    Note that the interview statements below are attributable to the interviewees concerned, not to the APPG on Fisheries, nor its members.

    Speaker: Erin Priddle, Marine Stewardship Council
    What is the biggest challenge facing certification of seafood, and marketing to consumers?
    “Certification has a crucial role to play in safeguarding our seas and contributing to the health of the world's oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices. By engaging in the Marine Stewardship Council's certification programme, retailers, buyers, and processors can be assured that seafood certified with the MSC ecolabel has been sourced from fisheries meeting our rigorous seafood sustainability standard. Consumers can also be confident that seafood carrying the MSC ‘blue tick’ is certified as sustainable.”
    Going forwards, how would you like to see policymakers and those in the industry tackling these issues?
    “Policymakers and industry are operating in a complex time, with unprecedented rates of change within the UK political and environmental landscape. Fisheries must be resilient in the face of change and policymakers and industry should work together to ensure fisheries can adapt to change, while at the same time operating within a robust and collaborative management framework. The MSC takes a collaborative approach to encourage the uptake of sustainable fisheries through certification. These principles can equally be applied to policymakers and industry to ensure they drive forward sustainable UK fisheries, together.”

    Speaker: Matt Slater, Cornwall Good Seafood Guide
    What is the biggest challenge facing certification of seafood, and marketing to consumers?
    “Through the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, Cornwall Wildlife Trust want to encourage more people to buy locally sourced fish from sustainable stocks, but one of the biggest current barriers to our work is the lack of published, high quality, scientific data to enable accurate assessments of local fish stocks.  Of 63 species of commercial importance landed to Cornish ports by Cornish fishermen we only have reliable, scientific stock assessments for 13 species. Our project aims to support small scale sustainable fishing operations but without this research it is impossible for a fair assessment to be made for many species. Of particular concern are stocks for turbot, lemon sole, John dory, scallops, ling, bream, and mullet all of which are completely unstudied in our area.”
    Going forwards, how would you like to see policymakers and those in the industry tackling these issues?
    “We would like to see more resources given to IFCAs (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities) and to fisheries science research partnerships to improve our understanding of this complex and changing production system.”

    Speaker: Ruth Westcott, Sustainable Fish Cities
    What is the biggest challenge facing certification of seafood, and marketing to consumers?
    “The biggest challenges, as I see it, are twofold:

    There isn’t enough verifiably sustainable fish available in the UK. Businesses (including the public sector and caterers serving over a billion meals per year) are signing up to sustainable fish standards and this means that some UK fish is off the menu including some scampi, scallops, plaice, cod, mackerel, herring, seabass, eel, gurnard, halibut, grey mullet, skates and rays, salmon, sole and whiting. The UK fishing industry is missing out on sales opportunities; we calculated at least £62 million for the catering sector alone – because it is not considered sustainable by the Marine Conservation Society or the Marine Stewardship Council so it is ‘blocked’ from menus. It also means that we’re spending taxpayer money on imported fish when we could be supporting local businesses – if only the local fisheries met sustainability standards.

    Data deficiency and lack of monitoring of fisheries.

    Data deficiency is one of the main reasons that much of the fish caught in UK waters isn’t judged to be sustainable. It is a barrier to effective management and to marketing opportunities for UK fish. According to government data the status of three of the UK’s fifteen main fish stocks is unknown. Scallops, England’s most valuable seafood species, does not have a full stock assessment. Nephrops – a species fundamental to fishing communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland including Fraserburgh, Mallaig, Ardglass, Peterhead and Kilkeel does not have formal stock assessments covering all areas, and there is not sufficient data on when and where boats are fishing to properly protect vulnerable habitats.”

    Going forwards, how would you like to see policymakers and those in the industry tackling these issues?
    “We have a few recommendations for policymakers:

    1.     Set a date for all UK fisheries to be verifiably sustainable. We suggest five years. Some fisheries would require improvement projects and action plans for doing so and this will require investment from government. The investment would lead to higher catches and a competitive advantage for our fishers, so it’s a win-win.
    2.     Eliminate data deficiency for all UK fisheries and set a date to do it – to give fisheries the best chance of effective management and marketing their catch as sustainable. This would include electronic monitoring systems (including CCTV) on all boats and fully recorded catches. We don’t accept the arguments that this would give UK boats a competitive disadvantage over foreign vessels. On the contrary, as our research has shown, more data would help our fishers out-compete others in the market
    3.     Expand commitments to verifiably sustainable fish across all the public sector.

    For the industry, our recommendations are simple:

    Fish buyers must buy fish which is verifiably sustainable. We also need to see businesses be incredibly careful about the claims that them make about the sustainability of their seafood in order that we are telling the truth about the seriousness of the crisis in our oceans”

    Thursday, 18 July 2019

    CFPO quarterly news update.

    Welcome to the July edition of the CFPO's quarterly digital newsletter.

    We’re more than six months into 2019 and what a challenging and busy first half of the year it has been!

    British politics continues to be dominated by Brexit and to top it off we’re now searching for a new Prime Minister. Uncertainty and unpredictability remain the order of the day in Westminster.

    Obviously, the UK’s route out of the EU and therefore the CFP remains unresolved but let us see what a new Prime Minister and the latest deadline of 31 October can deliver. As a result of the Brexit uncertainty, the passage of the new UK Fisheries Bill progress through Parliament into law has, in effect, stalled.

    The CFPO has redoubled its efforts to ensure your priorities, concerns and views on Brexit and the UK Fisheries Bill continue to be heard and understood by Ministers, MPs across the political spectrum and officials.

    We’re also more than six months into the first year of full implementation of the EU’s Landing Obligation.

    In my opinion, even before the implementation of the EU’s Landing Obligation, most if not all CFPO member vessels were already working on improved selectivity and fishing practices in various ways (including partnerships with CEFAS, DEFRA and MMO) and I am pleased to see these efforts are continuing across the breadth of our membership.

    Targeting small, unwanted, or unmarketable fish has never been, and never will be, the practice of CFPO members. It is ironic that in our area many of the discards appear to be regulatory driven, for example, bass or spur dogs, which are not covered by the EU’s Landing Obligation.

    The EU’s Landing Obligation will continue to present some significant challenges in the ultra-mixed fisheries we have here in the Southwest, particularly given the constraints of our current quota allocations under the CFP’s relative stability share principle. As we make our way further through the year these challenges (and others we haven’t seen coming yet!) are likely to intensify.

    These facts seem to have been lost on NGOs and others who prefer to repeat inaccurate soundbites that only serve to mislead the public and display their ignorance. Frustrating as their views are to hear, their dogmatic opinions and the way that they have been expressed, is beginning to marginalise the NGOs from where the real decisions are made.

    The ICES stock assessment advice was released on 28 June. This advice will form the basis for 2020 quota proposals and discussions have already begun with CEFAS and DEFRA around our areas of concern and emerging priorities for members. There are some generally positive trends on important stocks like sole, plaice, megrim, monk and haddock in area 7, although there is more challenging advice on cod and whiting.

    Mixed fisheries considerations, balancing MSY, landing obligation aspirations and social and economic implications will all have to be factored in before final agreement later in the year.

    The rest of 2019 will undoubtedly be challenging and uncertainty looks to continue in the short term at least. However, hopefully, some clarity on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the future direction of fisheries management in the UK will emerge.

    The CFPO is your organisation and will continue to be guided by you. Any concerns, questions or even if you just want a chat, my door is always open.

    Paul Trebilcock