Secretary of State Michael Gove spent a full day in North Shields at the invitation of Fishing for Leave for a port visit and presentation on future sustainable management under a Days-at-Sea system.
He met the skipper/owner of a local trawler just returned with a catch of whiting and Mr Gove witnessed the abhorrent situation where the prime fish has to be discarded in order to comply with current CFP quota rules. This graphically illustrated the ecological and financial damage done to the fishing industry by the CFP.
Aaron Brown of Fishing for Leave commented: “We are delighted that Mr Gove took the time for a port visit and came to North Shields to hear and see first-hand how unfit current management is.
“For years, fishermen have been trying to highlight to politicians how damaging the system of quotas, discarding and a ban that would force the UK fleet to tie up when it exhausts its lowest quota is – the severity of which is not often understood.
“Fishing for Leave presented a comprehensive management policy of Days-at-Sea, and Mr Gove listened intently to FFL’s proposal: that by allowing vessels to keep what they catch, in exchange for a limit of time at sea, rather than catching and discarding dead fish to match a quota, it would end the problem of discards, as vessels could catch less but land all catches, improving sustainability.
“Days at Sea would provide an ecologically-sound alternative of management that works with, and accepts, the natural fluctuations, responding to real-time information rather than imposing arbitrary species targets based on a paucity of data that generates discards.
“With the supporting technology, this would provide real-time, accurate science and management and a world-leading system of sustainable management for the government to implement to fulfil Brexit.
“Mr Gove’s visit highlighted to him the true abhorrence of discarding and quotas, and that there is an alternative to the dysfunctional CFP that solves all the problems by ending discards, improving viability, sustainability and delivering a new fisheries policy that will make Britain a world leader.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary of State, DEFRA and all other interest groups in developing the only credible alternative to ensure that the acid test of Brexit becomes a beacon of success for all parties concerned and that the disastrous status quo is not continued.”
Speaking on Sky News at the end of his visit, Michael Gove said: “Taking back control is what we voted to do. We have control of our territorial waters. We can decide how we allocate access to our waters and that means we can govern our own territorial waters and our fisheries in the interests of our fishing industry, in the interests of our social community and in the interest of our economy overall.”
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