Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The 6000th post on Through the Gaps

As of today, there have been 6000 posts and 1 million 567 thousand and 485 page views recorded for Through the Gaps!

That first post, on May 6th 2006 included a photo of Stevenson's beam trawler AA just after she came in 'Through the Gaps' of a Friday evening - at the time there was still a Saturday morning fish auction. At that time the CFP, quotas and other controls give fishermen cause for great concern over the viability of a future in fishing. The port was home to a large but drastically reduced fleet of mainly trawlers, beam trawlers and netters. 

At the time, restricting boats by introducing 'days at sea' controls and huge reductions in quotas were of greatest concern.

Since then, the fleet in Newlyn has shrunk further - but despite the huge changes the remaining skippers and owners have invested heavily in new or newer boats - only two of the 2009 netting fleet work from the port today.  The crab and sardine fleets seeing the most growth.

So it seems fitting to mark the occasion with a plea from one South coast fishermen that must surely be echoed by many other small and inshore boat owners and skippers in Cornwall and around the UK.

The latest gripe affecting the large in number but small in catching capacity in the grand scheme of things is, 'latent capacity' - that's bureaucratic gobbledygook for, "if you haven't fished for certain types of fish over the last few years then you won't be able to do so in the future'. In other words, if a fisherman has decided to change fishing method for a few years for whatever reason- often the sound economical principle of maximising his boat's ability to generate an income for him and his family - and then wishes to return to a previous method - he can't.

"When fishing licences were first issued it was your birth right to receive one, everyone at that time who was fishing was legally was entitled because it was your immemorial right or more commonly known these days as public right to fish. Stealing any of your licence rights to entitlement under the draconian guise of latent capacity capping is an affront to the legal laws that they had to be issue under. Nowhere in the licence has it ever stated that you may lose your entitlement... if its not used. Fishermen were not warned about latent capacity capping so as they may have done something about it.
This is a complete INJUSTICE by mindless men in suits. Why, this is why, my July pressure stock entitlement for the fish available to me in my area is Plaice 275 kg, and Skate and Ray 175 kg its not enough to cover the diesel.
All I can catch is NON PRESSURE STOCK SPECIES, which puts me on course for latent capacity capping. MMO why did you not allocate the quotas fairly in the first place? You are now killing off hard working fishermen, are you PROUD of how you are trying to manage our fisheries?"
275Kg of Plaice is roughly 9Kg a day and 175 of Ray is around 5.6Kg per day.

To give you some idea just how little fish that amounts to, above is a box with 7Kg of grey mullet - now compare that with what this seal steals and and eats in the space of 30 minutes from INSIDE a trawl 1200 feet down!

It is estimated that there are between 50-60,000 thousand seals that live and feed in our inshore waters. That is five times the number of fishermen in total (12,160 in 2013).  There is, however, no meaningful relationship that can be drawn between the number of fish taken by seals and the amount caught by fishermen - except, of course, when seals decide to eat the contents of a fishermen's nets...

Monk fish heads after seals have eaten the rest of their bodies taken directly form the nets in 100m of water..