Fishermen in the Wash need to be involved in the management of their fisheries in co-working arrangements with Eastern IFCA, and are ‘in despair’ at what is happening to their industry, DEFRA secretary George Eustice was told last week.
There also need to be changes to the Wash Regulating Order, and to how IFCAs are managed, he was told.
At the NFFO AGM, Wayne Brewster of the Boston Fishermen’s Association told George Eustice that there was no effective oversight of IFCA management. “A complaint against an IFCA goes to an IFCA and ends with the IFCA,” he said.
“Experienced fishermen who have the knowledge should assist in the major management decisions. This will follow up on Michael Gove’s white paper in 2018, when he said fishing should move towards a more co-management model with the stakeholders.
“This is not happening in the IFCAs in general, and definitely not in the Eastern IFCA.
Sadly, this approach is leading to poorly managed fisheries that will definitely cause an environmental disaster. They are not building on the knowledge and experience built up over past generations.”
George Eustice asked Wayne Brewster to write to him with specific details of what is going wrong in the IFCA, and said he would discuss the issues with Victoria Prentis.
“IFCAs are designed to try to bring together the twin objectives of marine conservation in our inshore waters and fisheries management,” said the minister.
“They should have fishermen’s representatives on them plus MMO representatives, local councillors and local academics with expertise, so there is a balanced set of interests including fishermen – but if that’s not happening, I’m more than happy to follow that up.”
Wayne Brewster said he had spoken to Victoria Prentis who was ‘well aware of the deep problems we’ve got in the Wash’.
“The majority of the Wash industry is in despair at what’s happening to us – there should be more co-management, but we are totally bypassed on the major decisions.”
He said the problems related mainly to the future management of the cockle and mussel fisheries.
“We’ve had the Wash Fishery Order for the last 30 years and the majority of fishermen in the Wash would like to replace it, maybe with a new order, but we’ve been bypassed and we’ve been told a byelaw would be better.
“But the system we’re hearing about isn’t going to give us any security or sustainability. How can you invest in the future when you’ve got no guarantee of the future? Fishermen all around the coast want a secure future, and we need action sooner rather than later.”
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