The UK government has announced a slew of new measures centred around Fisheries Management Plans, described as a blueprint for the best management of marine stocks, as well as a roll-out of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) for certain classes of fishing vessels over the coming five years.
A consultation is also due to take place as the government launches its vision for remote electronic monitoring (REM) in English waters, setting out the proposed approach and next steps. This is described as technology can gather data, including on the amount, size and species of fish caught – also able to record information on accidental bycatch of sea birds or cetaceans.
‘The information REM can deliver will support the fishing industry to manage stocks sustainably for the benefit of future generations and give fish buyers and retailers greater confidence in the sustainability of our fish,’ acccording to DEFRA.
A roll-out of REM in English waters is expected to be phased in over the coming five years, prioritising over-24m vessels engaged in pelagic trawling, fly-shooters, demersal trawlers fishing for nephrops with mesh sizes up to 120mm, gill and trammel netters in the Celtic Sea and Channel, and demersal trawlers – including beamers – fishing in English areas of the Celtic Sea and English Channel.
This has been announced alongside the introduction of six Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) as the first of the 43 proposed FMPs, designed initially to apply to crab and lobster, whelk, king scallops, bass, Channel non-quota demersal stocks and southern North Sea and Eastern channel mixed flatfish. According to DEFRA, the bass and king scallop FMPs have been developed jointly with the Welsh Government.
DEFRA states that each FMP proposes a series of short, medium and long-term actions to ensure the stocks are managed sustainably, and that these are the result of an 18-month process involving hundreds of hours of discussions with the fishing sector, anglers and other stakeholders, during which different approaches to developing these plans have been tested.
FMPs allow for a combination of actions that can be used to manage stocks, such as seasonal closures or further scientific studies, and longer-term approaches. DEFRA also intends to consult on management of discards, as evidence has shown the the Landing Obligation that came into force for EU fisheries in 2015 has been less than effective. Proposals include working on the principle of counting all fish catches against quota to keep fishing with agreed UK limits through better catch accounting.
A commitment has also been made to a boost for the under 10-metre fleet, removing a cap on the amount of quota available to these vessels.