A consultation aimed at securing a sustainable future for Welsh seas and the fishing industry has today been launched by Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
The 16 week consultation, which reconfirms Welsh Governments commitment to the marine environment, aims to promote discussion to help shape future fisheries management in Wales, protecting and securing benefits from sustainably managed fish stocks as part of resilient marine ecosystems.
Welsh coasts and seas are an invaluable natural asset, contributing to wellbeing, as well as millions to the economy, supporting thousands of jobs and providing a rich heritage and culture. Over 60% of the Welsh population live near the shores, with all major cities and many large towns located on the coast.
Leaving the European Union (EU) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) provides an opportunity for Wales to set its own tailored policy at a significant moment for the marine and fishing industry in Wales. It also provides challenges, given the interconnected nature of supply chains and markets with up to 90% of fishing exports going to the EU.
The consultation is seeking views on a range of areas, including:
- Managing fishing opportunities on behalf of the people of Wales in line with the Well-being and Future Generations Act. As we leave the EU, any negotiated additional fishing opportunities for Wales would be managed to offer greater benefit for our coastal communities and sustainable growth of the fishing industry.
- Introduction of more sustainable management practices for species with commercial value based on robust scientific evidence. This could include adaptive management which would introduce a monitoring system to sustain certain stocks and provide the flexibility to open and close fisheries in response to environmental impacts and variations. Our intention is to ensure that over time adaptive management would further enhance our ecosystem resilience.
The consultation is open until 21 August 2019.
The Minister said:
I know how passionate people are about our marine environment, and from my many conversations about Brexit, I know people are worried about the impact it could have. As the consultation states we remain fully committed to protecting our marine environment as we exit the EU.
“This is a significant moment for the fisheries sector and how we leave the EU will have a substantial impact on the industry.
“The recent extension of Article 50 is welcome – there can be no denying the catastrophic impact a no deal would have had on the industry and this must be avoided at all costs. I want this consultation to promote a genuine discussion about how we can ensure the sector continues to thrive post-Brexit in a sustainable manner.
“Leaving the CFP provides us with the opportunity to tailor our policies to meet Welsh needs. Our fishing industry is distinct from those in other parts of the UK and while many of the challenges will be the same, others will not.
“Devolution gives us the opportunity to develop a system which works for Wales, working closely with the sector to help shape its future. I urge everyone in the sector and anyone with an interest in ensuring a strong, sustainable and thriving future for Welsh fisheries to get involved and share their views with us.”
The consultation is the first stage in the creation of a new policy and management regime, underpinned by appropriate legislation.