Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Filey salmon fishermen face extinction - why?

Filey driftnet salmon fishermen are about to be put out of business largely because the MMO do not have the staff to satisfactorily deal with their plight - instead they are simply implementing a ban devoid of any consideration for the livelihoods of generations of fishermen.

In a blog post exactly a year ago, Mike Warner write penned an in-depth look at just how far the fishermen of Filey have been prepared to go in order to comply with every regulation thrown at them

For generations, the North Yorkshire coast has been home to vibrant fishing communities. Fishing has shaped towns and coastlines, offered careers to local families, provided delicious, sustainable food, and contributed hugely to local tourism.

These coastal fisheries are small-scale, low-impact and working hard to protect the environment they depend upon.

In Filey, the fishery is down to just seven small-scale, artisanal boats. Fishermen have inherited their licenses from their fathers, and want to pass them on to their children and grandchildren. But all of this is at risk due to new proposed regulations from the Environment Agency (EA).


The EA is working to protect salmon stocks in the area, which are under pressure. Some salmon are caught by these small, commercial boats, but many more are caught by anglers - who fish the spawning grounds for the salmon along river beds. The EA is proposing to drastically reduce fishing opportunities for the remaining commerical fishermen in Filey, and along the whole North Yorkshire coast. Eventually, the plan is to remove licenses from these fishermen entirely.

All fishermen - whether at sea or in-land - want to make sure there are plenty of salmon for future generations. To protect stocks, boats in Filey have been voluntarily releasing salmon throughout the months of April and May for over a decade, and they focus their commercial operation entirely on catching sea trout. They have voluntarily captured data on all fish they catch, reduced the length of their nets, and only fish for 5 months of the year.

Per year, the average catch of salmon by this small commercial fleet is just 157 fish. In comparison, the catch of sea trout is over 4,600 fish. This valuable, sustainable sea trout fishery will be completely eliminated by the EA's proposals.

We believe the EA should work with the local fishermen to find a solution that is sustainable for the community, as well as the environment - and not put an end to generations of fishing heritage in local Yorkshire communities. Fishermen want to be part of the solution: let them be!

With a new spotlight on UK fishing due to Brexit, this government should not allow small-scale, low-impact, sustainable fishing businesses to go out of operation - with a huge impact on local families and businesses - when alternative options exist.

Please help protect the fishing heritage of the North Yorkshire coast.

News update from DEFRA:

Therese Coffey (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) provided a response when asked:

The North East coast net fishery, including drift nets at North Shields, operates as a coastal mixed stock fishery, catching salmon from a large number of different populations from rivers in both Scotland and England on the eastern coast of Britain.

The UK Government has international obligations as a member of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) to close coastal mixed stock fisheries as it is not possible to manage them in such a way as to effectively protect contributing salmon stocks. Closing fisheries is not an action that is taken without careful consideration. In reaching this position the Environment Agency (EA) has followed the NASCO guidelines and applied the Precautionary Approach to the conservation and management of salmon populations, giving priority to conserving and protecting salmon stocks.

The EA understands that these new management measures could impose a financial burden on licensed drift netsmen. It has not taken the decision to propose measures lightly, but salmon are in decline across the country. On the grounds of ensuring stocks exist at a sustainable level now and in the future, these are the measures that are being proposed.

The EA intends to formally advertise its proposals later this month and all stakeholders will have the opportunity to respond to the proposed byelaws and to request changes or modifications.