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Monday, 28 October 2013

New controls on fishermen ‘will cost jobs and harm economy’

“DRACONIAN” bylaws restricting what shellfishermen can catch and where they can land will lead to a “huge” loss of financial revenue for an East Coast port and result in “considerable” job losses, opponents claim.

Measures being introduced by the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority are designed to improve conservation and cut the risk of a collapse in stocks of crab and lobster.

But some fishermen from Bridlington are now calling for a Ministerial review of the new regulations, saying their catches could be reduced by a quarter, leading to lay-offs among crew and knock-ons in the supply chain.

The changes include increasing the minimum size of crab landed and banning the landing of female lobsters which are carrying eggs for four months a year, within the six-mile limit, which is the jurisdiction of NEIFCA.

What is angering fishermen who fish beyond the six-mile limit most is that a new “carriage ban” would ban any undersize crab or berried females from being landed in any port in the NEIFCA area, which stretches from Donna Nook in north east Lincolnshire to the Northumberland border.

They say this could lead to the “ludicrous” situation where they would have to land their catches in a port in the neighbouring Eastern IFCA area, Lowestoft, for example, for it to be transported back by road to Bridlington.

Different IFCAs already have different rules and currently a fisherman from Kings Lynn has to abide by a minimum landing size of 115mm whereas one from Bridlington has to stick to 130mm, which will go up to 140mm, when the bylaws come in. Fishermen from Bridlington say what they would be forced to discard by law could legally be fished by a fisherman from outside the area the next day and they need a “level playing field”.

Gary Redshaw, skipper of the Innovator, a successful offshore boat, has written to Fisheries Minister George Eustice, asking for a review.

He said: “Bridlington is the top shellfish port in Europe for crab and lobster.

“Year on year catches are going up and there has been considerable investment both in vessels, fishing gear and shore-based facilities.

“As fishermen we understand that the fishery has to be fished sustainably and to this end a lot of investment had been in larger vessels to fish offshore in areas previously underfished for crab and lobster.

“(The ban on carriage) would leave the offshore fleet with two alternatives - either fish inshore in already heavily fished areas - or land into ports outside the NEIFCA area and transport the catch by road back to Bridlington, which seems ludicrous.”

However David McCandless, chief officer of the NEIFCA, said: “If I seriously thought there would be the kind of impact (that some fishermen are talking about) we would not be advocating these regulations.

“We have been working on them since 2005 and we have tailored the regulations to minimise any potential economic impact.

“The conservation benefits in my view far outweigh more minor financial issues or burdens. They will be short-lived, in our view give them a year to bed in and the entire industry will feel the benefit.”

Mr McCandless said most inshore fishermen - who might be expected to object most - were “very supportive”.

He added: “(Offshore fishermen) should recognise that the industry will benefit from these measures. It is about accepting some of these measures to achieve a sustainable future.

“We are seeing huge increases with the offshore fleet. The pressure is increasing tremendously and from my position I see a real reluctance from the sector to accept any management measures that might benefit them.”

He said the Minister would have the final say, but they were expecting the new rules to be introduced by next summer.

Story courtesy of the Yorkshire Post