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Saturday, 7 March 2020

APPG Event Explores Socioeconomic Solutions for UK Fishing Communities




Last week, Parliamentarians and representatives from across the fisheries sector met in Westminster to discuss the socioeconomic challenges and opportunities facing fishing UK communities. The Social and Economic Sustainability event, arranged by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries, provided a briefing on the issue for the seven parliamentarians present and discussed how issues can be addressed through policy and collective action. The session was the APPG’s most popular to date.



The fisheries sector can be challenging to work in due to sporadic income, unsociable working hours, and risks to health and safety. These social factors, among others, can impact entire coastal communities. What’s more, reports have highlighted that a substantial number of fishing communities suffer from socioeconomic deprivation.

Panelist Deborah Layde, Grants Director at Seafarers UK, flagged that income insecurity was a top concern. “Insecure, fluctuating incomes create problems in maintaining regular payments for housing, council tax and priority debts. These problems can then lead to housing, mental and physical health issues,” she said. “We need to impress upon policymakers that the sustainability of those that work in fishing and coastal communities is just as important as the sustainability of our fish stocks. It is not all about the fish!”

“Uncertainty is now the main challenge for the industry,” said Arina Motova, Chief Economist at Seafish, who also presented at the meeting. “There is uncertainty in future quota and fisheries management, uncertainty in trade relationships and uncertainty in availability of labour force. It’s very difficult to plan any business or investment in this environment.” Going forwards, Ms Motova believes that attracting young people into the sector is crucial. “The sector needs particular support to compete to attract young people and create possibilities for younger generations. Work is especially required in smaller local fishing communities.”

Griffin Carpenter, Senior Researcher at the New Economics Foundation has a similar outlook on the challenge of uncertainty. “The UK fishing industry and the communities that support and are supported by it have a major challenge in responding to a technological and economic transition,” he said. “If we are to address this, new policies will be required, but first we need vision for the industry. Marine fisheries are, and will continue to be, a public resource owned by society as a whole. Now is the time for new radical visions of what modern fisheries could look like.”

Parliamentarians, industry representatives, environmental NGOs, policymakers and many more gathered within the Palace of Westminster, filling a Commons Committee Room and sharing insights from around the UK on the issues presented.

"The event provided a great opportunity for our APPG members to engage with people from across the fisheries sector,” said Sheryll Murray MP, who chaired the event. “We had a wide-ranging discussion on how we can best support our precious fishing communities, and everybody left with plenty of ideas on addressing the socioeconomic challenges that these communities face." Ms Murray’s family was supported by a small fishing vessel for 24 years, highlighting that fishing can provide a fruitful livelihood under the right conditions.

Proposed solutions to socioeconomic challenges were broad-ranging and acknowledged the complexity of the situation. Including fishers in management and policy decisions, and developing port infrastructure were among the priorities discussed.

The next APPG meeting will be publicised in the coming weeks. All involved in the industry are invited to attend, and all meetings are free of charge. 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 at https://www.fisheriesappg.org/contact). Anybody working within the fisheries sector is encouraged to get in touch with the APPG regarding suggestions for future meetings and discussions.


Contact: All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries Secretariat