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- World`s largest Seafood Trade Fair opens tomorrow
- Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 22 April 2013
- Reviving the Mediterranean blue economy through cooperation
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Marine Bill must consider fishing industry - Seafish
Seafish, the Sea Fish Industry Authority, urged the government to consider the needs of the fishing industry at a select committee meeting on the Marine Bill today.
Seafish advised the Joint Lords/House of Commons Select Committee to ensure the Marine Bill legislation allows enough flexibility for the catching sector to continue to fish in an environmentally responsible and financially sustainable manner - and that there is full engagement with stakeholders within the seafood industry during any related consultation phases.
Seafish Head of Environment, Philip MacMullen, presented to the Committee, along with industry representatives from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
Philip said: “We support the need for a Marine Bill to oversee a number of areas that have become increasingly complex over recent years, particularly permitting and licensing arrangements and resource management. However, there are many issues within the Bill which raise concern for the seafood industry, particularly the catching sector, who should be able to continue to fish with sensitivity and responsibility throughout UK waters.
“We are disappointed that the explanatory and policy notes within the Bill do not acknowledge the importance of food from the sea. This is a significant omission given the aspirations within Defra’s document ‘2027: a long-term vision for sustainable fisheries’, which highlights the importance of balancing economic, social and environmental priorities.
“In addition, some provisions in the draft are causing concern that the UK catching sector could be marginalised relative to non-UK fishermen and other industrial sectors.
“We recognise the need for a marine planning regime but note the potential conflicts between static and mobile activities – for example between installations like wind farms that don’t move around and fishing – an activity that does.
“Given the fact that the fishing industry is likely to be excluded from some key areas we would argue for the designation of fishing protected zones, where fishing is given priority.
“We recognise that the draft bill is an enabling framework to be followed by substantial secondary legislation. That legislation will be detailed and may have significant impacts for UK seafood interests. We urge Defra and the devolved administrations to adopt a different consultative model for those more detailed stages involving physical meetings with stakeholders. We note that the policy notes refer frequently to stakeholder involvement in developing policy but this is not reflected in any statutory requirements in the draft bill.
“There is also a need to ensure good dialogue is established between all UK administrations, in particular, the Scottish Government is no longer party to agreeing the overarching Marine Policy Statement.
“Within the Bill there there is mention of licensing charges, with a suggestion that level of charge might be increased for higher impact fishing gears. We would be very wary of going down this route because high impact gears can be operated responsibly within appropriate areas.
“All stakeholders in the seafood industry are working towards recovering marine biodiversity and productivity and we support a Bill which reflects this.”
Seafish has liaised closely with the Marine Bill team in Defra as the concept has developed over the past few years. Seafish runs a Marine Environmental legislation Working Group to enhance the consultation process between Government departments and seafood industry interests.
WorldFishingToday d. 12-06-2008