New plans to help protect and recover key fishing stocks have been published today (Thursday 14 December), seizing on the opportunities of the UK’s post-Brexit freedoms to support coastal jobs and protect the marine environment. 

The publication of the plans is the next step to delivering a thriving and sustainable fishing industry and healthy marine environment outside the EU. 

The first five Fisheries Management Plans set out how the government will work with the fishing industry and other stakeholders to support the long-term future and sustainable management of the UK’s fish stocks such as crab, lobster, king scallop and bass. These Fisheries Management Plans have been developed following extensive engagement directly with the fishing industry.    

These plans will help deliver the long-term economic viability of the UK’s key commercial fishing stocks through measures such as increasing minimum conservation reference sizes or introducing seasonal or area closures to protect juvenile and spawning stocks. 

Alongside the publication of the plans, the government has also announced a further £4 million – as part of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund – to support projects for the UK’s catching sector that make improvements to boats, at ports and in health and safety.  

As well as taking action at home, the UK has also formally ratified the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, a new treaty which prohibits harmful fisheries subsidies which contribute to the depletion of global fish stocks.

The Agreement means that harmful fisheries subsidies overseas that support illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing will be prohibited globally. This will help deliver sustainable fish stocks around the globe, which is the single most important thing that sustain the UK’s fishing industry, particularly for those fishing in the North Atlantic.

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said: 

We are taking full advantage of our position as an independent coastal state outside the EU to deliver for the UK fishing industry and the coastal communities it supports. 

Today’s announcements are the result of direct dialogue with industry over many months, and will help to deliver sustainable stocks and a modern and profitable fishing industry for the future.

Mike Cohen, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said:

Fishers and fishing communities have more to lose than anyone if fish stocks are not sustainably managed. These Plans are a genuinely ambitious attempt to do that important job better.

With knowledgeable stakeholders involved and good quality science at the heart of the process, FMPs are well placed to sustain and grow our fishing fleet’s ability to keep providing affordable, healthy, low-carbon food.

The announcements come after the UK Government successfully negotiated access to 420,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industryworth up to £700 million after reaching agreements with the EU and Norway 

This brought the total fishing opportunities secured for the UK fleet in 2024 in the main negotiating forums to 750,000 tonnes – 80,000 tonnes more than in 2023 – worth up to £970 million based on historic landing prices. 

Source: FDepartment for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP  

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