Lesley Griffiths has welcomed a “strong and fair” deal for Wales’ fishing industry after an agreement was reached in Brussels on EU fishing quotas.
The Cabinet Secretary helped secure the deal as part of the UK Ministerial negotiating team at the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels which concluded early this morning.
The deal that was reached with regards to Wales’ priorities were:
- Commercial Sea Bass Fishery - The retention of the use of selective netting within the seabass fishery. This was a significant challenge as stock remains in a recovering state. However, working within the overall sustainable envelope, a modest increase in netting was secured. Initial proposals would have seen no provision at all for netting in 2017.
- Recreational Sea Bass fishery – The Cabinet Secretary made a case to increase the amount available to recreational angling. However, the Commission and Presidency could only justify a roll-over of arrangements from 2016 – namely catch and release for the first 6 months of the year followed by a one fish per day bag limit for the remainder of the year.
- Commercially Important Species - in line with science, the Cabinet Secretary negotiated for a roll over in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) on commercially important skates and rays and sole in the Bristol Channel. The proposal was for a cut in both of these species. In the end, the Commission and Presidency settled on a 5% increase in Skate and Ray and an 8% increase in sole.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“I am grateful to fisheries and recreational angling representatives with whom I met recently to help identify the key stocks of interest to Wales. As the industry has already undertaken voluntary sustainability measures and produced clear socio-economic evidence, I was able to make a strong case when I met with the Presidency and Commission alongside Ministerial colleagues, George Eustice, the Defra Minister of State, Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Scottish Government, and Michelle McIlveen MLA, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland Government.
“In line with our commitments on sustainable natural resource management, my priority was to safeguard fish stocks whilst also securing a positive outcome for those coastal communities whose economies depend so much on the sea. There is a need to fish at sustainable levels based on the best available scientific advice.
“Finding the right balance in the negotiations was a challenge. Overall, I believe a strong and fair balance was struck between protecting the economic interests of small-scale fishers and recreational anglers with the need to move stocks toward the position where they can be fished sustainably into the future."