Salmon and sea trout fishermen in Filey on the Yorkshire coast have put forward voluntary proposals to restrict their fishery to try to preserve it, and Filey’s fishing heritage, for future generations.

They put forward their proposals at a recent meeting of Yorkshire salmon licence holders with the Environment Agency. The measures aim to make this low impact, small-scale fishery of only seven boats even more sustainable. They include a voluntary quota of just 100 salmon per season and a 50m reduction in the overall length of their 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 datasets to build a concrete picture of local salmon and sea trout stocks.

Rex Harrison, who has fished from Filey for some 60 years, said: “We’re doing everything in our power to make sure we can keep fishermen part of Filey Bay. 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 six months of the year.

“We know it’s 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 licences on to the next generation.”

Local MP Kevin Hollinrake has contacted UK fisheries minister George Eustice to gain support for the fishermen’s voluntary measures and said he is ‘sympathetic’ to their arguments.

He said fishing is part of the traditional fabric of local communities and he would ‘do everything possible to secure a permanent fishing presence in Filey Bay’. “I think the voluntary conservation measures the fishermen have come forward with prove once again that they embrace their responsibilities in protecting our local environment, while also making a living from it,” he commented.

Fishermen in Filey will be continuing their campaign to secure their licences in the long-term, with plans in place for a summer festival celebrating fishing culture in the town this year.

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