Editor, Andy Read, comments on the current fuel prices and why the recent report published by the English and Scottish federations makes very sobering reading…

“As high fuel prices continue to see some boats choosing to tie up, rather than lose money burning diesel at over £1 a litre, the report published this week by the English and Scottish federations makes very sobering reading.

“Current displacement of fishing activity is nothing compared to what could happen in the next decade, as we see a headlong rush to designate more Marine Protected Areas and accelerate construction of offshore wind power.

“Fishermen’s leaders rightly point out that there is general acceptance of the need to transition further towards renewable energy. In many ways, fishermen are the canaries in the coalmine: the changed distribution of cod, for example, has posed much greater challenges for fishermen in the UK than any impacts of climate change on British farmers. Climate change, and the impact it has on the marine environment on which we depend for our livelihoods, remain a huge threat to the fishing industry.

“Similarly, few in the industry now challenge the principle of MPAs. The potential benefits from such closures for industry overall, if sited correctly, see a win-win for both commercial fishermen and the marine environment.

“However, the headlong rush that UK administrations now seem to be involved in is fundamentally flawed. Accelerated approval of offshore developments, and knee-jerk designation of HPMAs without any thought of the effects on industry, or to the wider benefits to the marine environment outside these closed areas, needlessly risks livelihoods.

“The detailed industry-funded report, looking at potential displacement of fishing activity – if such displacement is viable for fishermen – should not have been needed. This type of work is a fundamental part of any government planning exercise, and should have been completed before new designations were made.

“Fishing News can only hope that politicians will read and reflect on the report, at a time when a world food shortage is biting, where food security becomes ever more important, and when the small carbon footprint of much of the UK’s seafood landings is better understood and appreciated.

“Currently, regulators are completely ignoring the risks to the fishing industry from displacement and loss of traditional fishing grounds, working on the flawed assumption that fishermen can simply move on in the face of offshore developments, and continue merrily fishing away. This is no more realistic an option for many fishermen than telling a lowland dairy farmer to move his herd to the top of a distant mountain.

“This week’s report should be a wake-up call to regulators about an industry – already facing crises created by Brexit and high fuel prices – that is staring into the abyss. It is vital that fishermen have a genuine say in the planning of the ever more crowded marine environment, and receive formal acknowledgment from government of their vital role in providing sustainable food and employment.”

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