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Government focus on sustainable fishing welcomed but firm plans are needed

5 July 2018

Responding to the Government’s Fisheries White Paper, published on 4 July 2018, Wildlife and Countryside Link members welcome the direction of travel but urge that more ambition and detail be provided in the forthcoming Fisheries Bill.

Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes at Marine Conservation Society and Chair of the Link Marine Working Group, said:

‘This is a welcome commitment to sustainable fisheries management that minimises impacts on the marine environment as a whole.‘

‘The Government’s proposals are in line with the 25 Year Environment Plan ambition to secure healthy, biologically diverse seas for future generations to enjoy. However, this ambition needs to be realised through clear legislation and well-resourced monitoring and enforcement.’

Sarah Dolman, Senior Policy Manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Chair of the Link Bycatch group, said:

‘Thousands of dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds, and other animals die long and painful deaths in fishing nets each year, so it is welcome that reducing bycatch is in Defra’s plans.

The UK already leads the way on tackling bycatch in Europe. Brexit now provides an opportunity to become world leaders, by extending and improving protections. However, we need further firm commitments on increased monitoring and effective mitigation measures, and enforceable targets, if we are to work towards ending bycatch and the unnecessary suffering it causes.’

Dr Elaine King, Director of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

‘With fisheries such a key focus of the Government’s Brexit narrative, the ambition to put a healthy marine environment at the heart of future fishing plans is very welcome.

‘Fish are a public good and it is easy to forget that their numbers are essential to ecosystems beneath the waves. Fish do not respect borders, so recognising the need for effective quotas to ensure sustainability in the English fleet and beyond, is key to the future of the fishing industry.

‘The White Paper is a good start and we now look forward to seeing further ambition set out in the Fisheries Bill at the end of the year.’

ENDS