News and Developments

19th August 2013

Welsh Fishermen Unite to Meet 21st Century Challenges

Welsh fishermen have united behind the Welsh Fishermen’s Association to secure the long-term sustainability of their fisheries and their businesses

Over the last two years a quiet revolution has been going on in the Welsh fishing industry.  Faced with a perfect storm of reducing quotas, the potential loss of historic fishing grounds, a desire for sustainable fisheries and an increasingly participative management approach by Welsh Government, it was clear that a national voice for the industry was urgently needed.  Recognising the need for such an organisation the existing regional fishermen’s associations have come together to form the Welsh Fishermen’s Association. The Welsh Fishermen’s Association now represents fishermen from all corners of Wales.  The WFA Board, under the Chairmanship of Jim Evans (a pot fisherman from Aberpoth), has a membership drawn from the Welsh regional and sectorial associations:

  • South and West Wales Fishing Communities Ltd
  • Cardigan Bay Fisherman’s Association Ltd
  • Llŷn Pot Fishermen’s Association
  • Llyn Fisherman’s Association
  • North Wales Fishermen’s Co-operative

In the last two years the WFA has developed a strong and positive working relationship with Welsh Government, fishery and conservation managers and environmental NGOs.  The WFA has been central in the development of the Welsh Waters Scallop Strategy working closely with the Welsh Government, Seafish, Universities and conservation bodies.  The Scallop Strategy aims to secure a long-term sustainable scallop fishery in Wales that maximises socio-economic return whilst respecting the marine environment and other fisheries. Last year’s Highly Protected Marine Conservation Zone consultation in Wales saw the Welsh industry and coastal communities faced with the very real threat of losing access to their historic fishing grounds.  The Welsh Fishermen’s Association worked hard to canvas the views of both the industry and members of the affected communities to present a coherent argument against total closure of these areas.  Drawing on the energy and enthusiasm of its members the WFA went a step further and developed with a range of experts an alternative approach to managing fisheries in sensitive areas.  The WFA published a report “Striking the Balance” which described an ecosystem based approach as part of their response to the HPMCZ consultation.  This influential work has changed the direction of how fisheries and conservation sites will be managed in Wales winning broad support from a wide group of marine and coastal stakeholders who welcomed its common sense approach.  Fishermen are the first to acknowledge that their way of life relies on a clean, healthy and functioning marine ecosystem and are ready to play a role in managing it for the future. The WFA is currently working with Welsh Government fisheries managers on a review of Crustacean Bylaws.  The Welsh fishing industry relies heavily on the lobster and crab fisheries around Wale’s rocky coastline.  Perhaps their most important fishery resource, the WFA members want to ensure that the Bylaw Review implements best practice in crustacean fishery management that is based upon the best available knowledge.  To this end the WFA has secured funding from Seafish and Welsh Government to undertake a science review of crustacean management measures to inform the development of new regulations. Looking to the future the Welsh Government is reviewing how fisheries and the wider marine environment are managed in Wales.  The WFA is promoting the adoption of an ecosystem based approach with a strong regional co-management structure where locally relevant solutions are found for marine management issues.   This work is just beginning against the backdrop of the pressing issues of a reformed Common Fisheries Policy with the associated discard ban, calls for new quotas on Bass, and serious concerns over quota allocations. The WFA has just moved into a new office in West Wales from which it can operate with modern communications and computer equipment.  The next few years look to be a busy period for the WFA, the myriad pressures and challenges facing the Welsh fishing industry mean that the need for a clear national voice is abundantly clear. Chairman Jim Evans said: “The fundamental pillars of the WFA are the member associations that ensure regional and sectoral differences are captured and supported within our representations and initiatives on behalf of Welsh fishermen. We recognise that there are many challenges ahead of us but we remain optimistic that these challenges can be met by continuing to work proactively from the bottom-up. I am grateful to the WFA members for their vision, unity and forethought, these strengths have and will continue to underpin our efforts to future proof fisheries in Wales.”   Ripples


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