The Welsh Government will use the full force of the law to protect Wales’ marine natural resources and coastal communities from illegal fishing activity in Welsh waters, Mick Antoniw has said.
Speaking during a visit to the Three Rivers Cockle Fishery in Carmarthenshire and the Milford Haven-based Welsh Government Fisheries Protection Vessel, the Cranogwen, the Counsel General said the Welsh Government takes very seriously its responsibility for managing and protecting Welsh seas and natural resources.
Unrestrained exploitation of resources can lead to unsustainable practices which can degrade fishing stocks and cause damage to local economies.
The Welsh Government closely regulates fishing, and other activities, in Welsh marine waters. Using a number of assets - including fisheries patrol vessels - Welsh Government marine enforcement officers actively enforce and seek compliance with a wide range of regulations at sea and onshore.
Where evidence of offences is found, Welsh Government marine enforcement officers investigate fully and take proportionate action. This can range from written advice to written warnings and, in some cases, prosecution.
Prosecutions under fisheries legislation in Wales are taken in the name of the Counsel General. Over the past three years, officers have investigated 57 infringements which have led to 31 successful prosecutions.
Mick Antoniw said:
“The seas around Wales are blessed with a variety of nationally and internationally important species and habitats, protected under European, UK and Welsh law. These natural resources and the services they provide are crucial in helping our coastal communities thrive through fishing and tourism, as well as having important cultural significance.
“Effective and proactive management of these resources is vital for our future prosperity, protecting not just our natural resources but also safeguarding future opportunities for responsible fishermen who rely on them for their livelihoods, which in turn helps to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities.
“The successful recent prosecutions for illegal fishing in Welsh waters serve as a clear warning and deterrent to others that I, as Counsel General, and the Courts take fishing offences in Wales seriously and will seek to protect, with the full force of the law, our marine natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.”