Inshore fishermen have come together with industry leaders, policymakers, regulators and researchers in London today, Tuesday 8 October, for a two-day conference which will consider the future management of the UK’s inshore fisheries. The Future of Our Inshore Fisheries conference is part of an ambitious and collaborative project focused on ensuring that both the marine environment and coastal communities are sustainable and thriving into the future.
The line-up of speakers for the two days includes Wes Erikson (a fourth-generation fishermen from British Columbia who has been active in the fisheries advisory process for over 20 years); Dr Ralph Townsend (Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska); Professor Linda Nostbakken (Professor of Resource Economics, Norwegian School of Economics);
Robert Clark (Chief Executive Officer, Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) and Eddie Allison (Professor of Marine Affairs, University of Washington)
The conference speakers will present on examples of fisheries management solutions and share best practice from Canada, USA, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand. The presentations will be followed by discussion sessions where the attendees will consider these ideas and approaches and their relevance to the UK, with the active fishermen, in particular, bringing their direct experience and insight to these discussions.
Representatives from environmental groups and the recreational fishing sector will also take part in the event.
Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP said:
“We recognise the importance of the inshore fleet, which is at the heart of many coastal communities. That’s why it’s vital the views of inshore fishermen are taken into account as we take back control of our waters and build a sustainable, profitable and fair fishing industry for all of the UK.
“It is only through industry, scientists, regulators, UK government and devolved administrations coming together and learning from the best that we can develop tools to allow a more responsive, locally appropriate, sustainable and profitable approach to the management of our varied inshore fisheries.”
Alan McCulla, Chief Executive of the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers Organisation (ANIFPO) and a member of the Future of Our Inshore Fisheries project steering group said:
“The examples of fisheries management from around the world presented today emphasise what is possible for inshore fisheries across the UK, both in terms of sustainability and economic return. The steering group has brought together industry, government and others to work together on this ambitious project. We have a unique opportunity to make this work, and the continued support and effort from all involved is essential if we are to achieve genuinely collaborative management of our inshore fisheries in the future.”
Alasdair Hughson, fisherman and director of Keltic Seafare in Dingwall said:
“We tend look at fisheries management problems locally, but when you meet fishermen from across the UK you find that the problems we face are often quite similar. There is value for fishermen in attending events like this one to get a wider overview and to listen to new ideas. I hope that after the conference fisheries managers will also have a better appreciation of the issues fishermen are facing.”
Aubrey Banfield, fishermen who catches species including crab, lobster and cuttlefish off the South Coast of England, said:
“Fishermen have never been in the room discussing these things before, and there is a lot of confusion about how we got to be where we are and what the thinking behind the decisions has been. Just talking to fishermen about how they see things can change perceptions immensely. We need to look forward and end the approach of a ‘sticking plaster’ here and there. There needs to be full focus on what we can do to fix everything in fisheries management and licensing as a whole and come up with a solution that benefits all.”
Organisations from across the seafood sector have provided funding to ensure that fishermen are able to take time away from fishing to be part of ensuring a sustainable future for their industry. Over 50 bursaries have been provided by Seafarers, Trinity House, Coop, M&S, UK, Macduff, Seachill, Youngs and Seafish’s regional advisory committees.
The conference has been convened by an industry-led steering group and is being facilitated by Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry. Set-up in January 2019, the Future of Our Inshore Fisheries project aims to establish a blueprint for a collaborative management approach which will ensures that both inshore fisheries and coastal communities are sustainable and thriving into the future.
Further information on the project can be found on the Seafish website.
Image: Potters in Whitby last month, Mick Bayes Jr.