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Friday 6 June 2014

Royal Mail fish stamp set issue - but who is more threatened - the fish or the fishermen?

Three of the fishy stamps that went on sale yesterday to the public are worthy of further discussion on how helpful or unhelpful the stamps are in informing the public as to the state of fish stocks in UK waters - if that was the intention?

Skate along with spurdogs were taken off the catch register a while back - "The Commission has proposed setting total allowable catch (TAC) for spiny dogfish (or "spurdog") and porbeagle sharks at zero and prohibiting fishermen from keeping angel sharks, common skates, undulate rays or white skates."

In the mixed fisheries of the waters off Cornwall these fish and others currently banned will soon gain prominence when the 'nil discards' rules are introduced and boats are forced to keep them on board and land them.

Several Newlyn boats including the Govenek of Ladram have been involved in stock assessment for skate - the results are a long time in making their way to the quota discussion table however...

Conger eel are a case in point - landings in the UK are almost non-existent with good reason - the price fetched by these fish in the UK is very low despite its great eating qualities - and for that reason boats do not fish specifically for conger eel - they are caught and landed on the market in Newlyn mainly by beam trawlers fishing near to wrecks and patches of hard ground - the preferred habitat of these boisterous fish - there are now no boats that specifically fish for conger at any time during the year as there once were - hard to see how eating onger caught off Cornwall is in any way a threat!