Fishing for views on quota reform

Phil Walsh
Phil Walsh

A TOWN fisherman is encouraging colleagues to have their say on Government plans to overhaul fishing quotas.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is seeking views from the fishing industry on proposals to reform the way quotas, stating how much fishermen can land, are managed.

Defra says the planned changes will give fishermen more control over how they operate and create greater opportunities to profit.

But a national fishing body fears that boats under 30ft could be locked into restrictive quotas for the future.

And Hartlepool fisherman Phil Walsh says there are too many “grey areas” in the proposals.

A meeting to discuss the proposals will be held on the Headland next Wednesday as part of a nationwide consultation.

Phil, from Hartlepool, has previously called for an end to strict European quotas which see inshore fishermen have to dump tons of saleable dead fish overboard.

He said: “At this moment in time there is far too many grey areas in what the consultation says.

“I think there is going to be more pain before there is gain that’s for sure.

“The meeting is people’s chance to go and have their say about what they think and give their response to the Government.”

Defra says the proposals have been developed with industry representatives.

The main proposals include establishing a network of community quota groups and allocating more stable and predictable entitlements using fixed quota allocations.

It also includes plans to introduce some additional quota for vessels under 30ft.

But Phil added: “If the additional quota are not adequate it is not going to resolve the problem.”

Fisheries minister Richard Benyon said: “We need a simple, straightforward system that gives fishermen more say.”

John Percy, chief executive of the New Under Tens Fishermen’s Association, said the implications of the proposals are “massive”.

He said: “They seek to introduce individual quotas for each small-scale fisherman, locking them into future activity based on past performance.

“While some fishermen may benefit, there will be losers.”

Wednesday’s meeting takes place at Hartlepool Borough Hall, Middlegate, in the Constables Lounge, from 2pm to 8pm.