The Institute has submitted a response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry on Fisheries.

The Executive Summary to our response is below and the full submission can be found here. The Institute is also a co-signatory to the Greener UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link joint response to the inquiry.

The IFM is submitting a response to the EFRA Committee Fisheries Inquiry because Fisheries matter. They are an indicator of environmental quality, offer opportunities for recreation, and provide jobs and income. Around one million anglers are licensed to fish inland waters in England and Wales annually. They fish for ~30 million days on inland fisheries – mostly coarse fishing – with an expenditure on freshwater angling of approximately £1 billion, equating to 37,000 full-time jobs. In England, it is estimated that there are 884,000 sea anglers spending £1.23billion on the sport, supporting 10,400 full-time equivalent jobs. The marine sector employs around 12,500 fishermen with a further 6,500 in processing. The total catch is around 627,000 tonnes, worth, at the first point of sale, £770 million.

In response to the EFRA Committee Fisheries questions, the Institute of Fisheries Management would like to make the following points:

  • There is need for a national fisheries policy, covering both marine and freshwater fish and fisheries which must include greater convergence of marine fisheries and marine conservation policy.
  • Legislation is needed to address many factors affecting the success of fisheries.
  • A clear plan of how the loss of the EU funding mechanism will be replaced is required.
  • Adequate funding for public spending on fisheries services should be provided to ensure the adequate protection and development of fisheries so that they can also provide the maximum economic value to communities and the UK.
  • Fish health is a major concern, it is vital that controls remain in place for protection of the industry as well as allowing control of live fish imports which might have implications for the wider environment.
  • The primary stock management objective should be one of sustainability to maintain the potential of marine and freshwater resources. Key objectives include:
  • the setting of total allowable catches for fish stocks within the UK EEZ which must accord to the best available scientific advice,
  • the elimination of discards and bycatch,
  • the designation of an ambitious third tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.
  • There is now an opportunity for new fisheries governance structures which should include representation from a range of stakeholders including both commercial and recreational fishers, as well as conservation and wider input from coastal communities.
  • The new fisheries management system needs to ensure transparency in the trading of stocks and in the decision making so that future decisions on the allocation of fishing opportunities the UK can benefit a wider range of fisheries participants and so yield greater economic returns.
  • There is concern about possible divergence in fishery policy between the four nations of the UK following Brexit.

David Bunt, Executive Director for the IFM said:

“With Brexit on the horizon, there is the potential for significant opportunities and threats to our marine and freshwater fisheries. The Institute commends the Government in seeking views on the future of fisheries in the UK and we are delighted to provide our comments”.