Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A chance for local MP and Fisheries minister George Eustice to prove his mettle - #dontletusdown

NEWLYN could lose at least £3 million next year as a result of new fishing quotas, with dramatic impacts on the whole community, a local industry expert has warned.

Fisheries Minister George Eustice will meet other European leaders on December 14-15 to agree what are expected to be more dramatic cuts to the amount of fish trawlermen can land.

CFPO chief Paul Trebilcock - Photo courtesy of the Cornishman

Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers' Organisation (CFPO), says he fears the minister, despite living just ten miles from the UK's leading white fish port, will not fight for beleaguered Cornish fishermen.

Mr Trebilcock has already seen the proposed cuts to quotas for species like hake, cod, haddock, plaice and monkfish – the latter alone earned £4.7 million for Newlyn last year. He fears their severity, combined with sudden and unexpected restrictions on fisheries imposed in the last few weeks, could create an economic disaster for communities like Newlyn next year.

Fishermen in Newlyn have already seen major restrictions placed on landing monkfish, plaice and Dover sole in recent weeks.

Mr Trebilcock said: "We've gone through [the European Council proposal] and we estimate that it would mean a loss of £3 million for Newlyn, and for the broader South West we think over £10 million in lost fishing opportunities, and that's just literally what it's worth at the market, it would be frightening to think what that would be at the shop end. It goes beyond the boats landing the fish. It's not just the 1,000 fishermen in Cornwall, it's the 4,000 people from the whole industry. And the families who rely on them."

European fisheries policy sets quotas to achieve what it calls Maximum Sustainable Yield; essentially the point at which fishing would not affect whether a species could thrive.

The CFPO is signed up to the idea to give fishing a future for the long term. But it says cutting too quickly, and on the basis of emotion not science, may leave a fishing fleet with no short-term future.

It also fears Mr Eustice, whose family runs Trevaskis Farm, near Hayle, has not grasped the complexities of the issue.

Mr Trebilcock said: "I don't think there is the same confidence with George Eustice as the ministers we have had in the past."

Mr Eustice said: "I have had regular meetings with fishing representatives, including Paul Trebilcock, to discuss this year's December Fisheries Council and I will be arguing for a balanced approach where there is a danger that sharp reductions in quota on individual species could cause increased discards.

"We are also working with fishermen in Newlyn. However, we must recognise the need to fish sustainably to protect the long-term future of the fishing industry."

In an open letter to the minister, Mr Trebilcock writes: "There is a heavy responsibility on your shoulders. If the Cornish fleet is to emerge intact from this December Council, it will not be sufficient to return from Brussels to claim that some cuts have been mitigated.

"You must use every weapon in your armoury to deliver an outcome that is consistent and compatible with the economic viability of the South West fleets. You may rest assured that we are as committed to sustainable high yield fisheries as you are. But if the Cornish fleet is to reach that destination it must also have a future in the short term."

Story courtesy of the Cornishman.