Posted 10th Jul 2018 by Peter Byrne
A key document has been launched by the Government which sets out a vision for the future of UK fisheries, Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations
This, coupled with the consultation which launched alongside it, informs both the Government's forthcoming Fisheries Bill and the longer-term development of fisheries management too.
Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas, The Wildlife Trusts, says: "The Wildlife Trusts are really impressed that the Government is committed to reversing the loss of marine life and where possible to restoring it. This is a giant step forward for nature recovery at sea."
The Wildlife Trusts welcomed the Command Paper, along with its target of increasing the sustainability of the fisheries. This addresses a wide range of the necessary topics including how management will be brought in through new laws, negotiations with other countries over managing shared fish stocks, and exactly how we will meet the international obligations. It also sets out the objectives around the increased sustainability including setting and enforcing sustainable fishing limits, and preventing discarding fish, collecting the best scientific data, and importantly, how you can protect the marine environment.
Fisheries management plays a crucial part in delivering a better future for wildlife. As part of marine ecosystems, catching fish will have wide environmental effects, which includes altering food webs, damaging seabed habitats and the bycatch of whales, seabirds and other non-target species.
This is on top of the impact it has on the populations of fish themselves too.
There is plenty to be positive about in the new fisheries Command Paper. It recognises exactly what true sustainability will mean - healthy fish stocks and an equally healthy marine environment. In addressing this issue, the Command Paper also highlights the links that come between fisheries management and the wider UK marine strategy, restating the commitment to deliver Good Environmental Status by 2020.
A particularly welcomed aspect is the continued commitment to delivering a well-managed, ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along with the proposed measures that allow the effective management of MPAs in offshore waters. Finally, there are measures in place that set up sustainable catch limits, basing fisheries management on sound science. This combines to speak to a commitment to minimise the adverse impacts of fishing while also making sure it has a sound future.
Joan added: "We remain extremely concerned about the Government’s approach to the discarding of fish. While we welcome the Government’s commitment to ending this practice we have doubts over the practicality of some of the proposals."
Image courtesy of Paul Naylor