The fishermen of Filey Bay in Yorkshire have put forward proactive new measures in a bid to secure the fishing heritage that has been precious to the local community for generations.
Facing a new regulation from the Environment Agency that would prevent salmon and sea trout netsmen in the Filey Bay passing their fishing licenses on to the next generation, local fishermen have come together to urgently work to secure a future for their livelihood, and way of life. With support from local MP Kevin Hollinrake, fishermen – including Rex Harrison, who has been fishing in Filey some sixty years – have devised a set of voluntary measures to render this low-impact, artisan fishery even more sustainable.
‘We are doing everything in our power to make sure we can keep fishermen part of Filey Bay,’ Rex Harrison said. ‘Our fishing history is at the heart of this community, and the fishermen here have worked hard over many years to make sure we have a minimal impact on the wider environment. We take a small, sustainable catch for a good profit – and we only fish for 6 months of the year.’
The new measures proposed by Rex and others at the latest meeting of Yorkshire fishery licence holders, and the Environment Agency, include a voluntary quota of just 100 salmon per season and a 50m reduction in the overall length of their fishing nets from 370m to 320m. In past years, Filey fishermen have also voluntarily adapted their nets to reduce by-catch of seabirds, and contributed towards Environment Agency data sets to build a concrete picture of local salmon and sea trout stocks.
‘We know it is part of our job to look after the local wildlife, for future generations living in and visiting Filey. Filey fishing families also work for the Lifeboat service. We think it’s important the Environment Agency recognises the different ways in which we, as fishermen, contribute to this community – and we are willing to support their work by taking up these voluntary quotas for salmon, reducing our net length and offering them extra data. For that, we just want to be able to pass our licenses on to the next generation,’ Rex commented.
The fishermen’s cause has not gone unnoticed by local MP Kevin Hollinrake. He has supported Rex and his fishing colleagues in contacting UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP and putting forwards these voluntary measures. He sees this small fishery – of just seven vessels – in Filey as integral to local culture
‘The North Yorkshire coast has a proud tradition of fishing, and this is part of the fabric of local communities here – Filey is no different,’ Kevin Hollinrake said. ‘I’ve been delighted to support the local fishermen in their mission to secure licensing for the next generation, and I think the voluntary conservation measures they’ve come forwards with prove once again that they embrace their responsibilities in protecting our local environment, whilst also making a living from it.’
Having met with George Eustice several times, and found him ‘sympathetic to our arguments’, Mr Hollinrake added he would ‘do everything possible to secure a permanent fishing presence in Filey Bay.’
Fishermen in Filey will be continuing their campaign to secure their licenses in the long-term, with plans in place for a Summer festival celebrating fishing culture in the town this year.