Marine Bill - Next Steps
Jun 23,2009 00:00 by SACN

With the Marine Bill returning to the Commons on 23rd June 2009, a newsletter summarises where we are now, and what happens next.



From debate on 23rd June:
Martin Salter MP

A few days ago, in my capacity as chair of the all-party angling group and my party's spokesman on angling, I convened a meeting with the new governing body for angling, the Angling Trust, which brought together representatives from coarse, game and sea fishing. It discussed several issues, some of which have already been mentioned.

I welcome the demise of the sea fisheries committees��"they were unbalanced��"but we must ensure that there are at least as many recreational sea anglers on the new committees, the IFCAs, as there are commercial fishermen.

If county councillors who have links with the commercial sector are on those committees, that must be declared; otherwise, we cannot get the balance right.

I am delighted that officials in DEFRA have announced that, by and large, recreational sea angling will not be banned in the MCZs��"it will be banned only in some of the marine protected areas.

We have a unique opportunity to help with the enforcement of the MCZs.

Recreational sea anglers would welcome the opportunity to fish in the buffer zones on the edge of the MCZs.

Those would provide excellent fishing and it would also assist in enforcing the MCZ.

It is all very well drawing imaginary lines in the sea, but unless anglers��"who have a vested interest in reporting illegal commercial fishing��"are there as the eyes and ears, we will have made policy in a vacuum. I want to see on the face of the Bill a definition to improve, develop and maintain fisheries, and to enhance their social and economic contribution through recreational angling.......

........Finally, I ask the Minister to think again about the nonsense that the new sea fisheries committees would have responsibility for enforcing the tidal limit. That cannot be right.

Bernard Jenkin MP

The North Essex test of the Bill is whether the sustainability of the inshore fisheries is protected and improved; only then will Essex fishermen and their successors enjoy a sustainable industry.

The Bill must also provide for recreational fishing, which I believe is one of the most unsung and under-exploited generators of employment and tourism income in the Essex area.

The potential for sea bass fishing off the Essex coast, for example, is enormous and it could provide huge benefit to the area. However, I fear that the licensing regime being introduced for recreational fishermen is acting as a deterrent. Furthermore, so many of the bass are caught by netsmen.

That reduces the size of the fish, and it is their size that is of particular attraction to sport fishermen.

A more enlightened approach would recognise that the commercial fishermen are not the only interests to be addressed; the recreational fishermen represent a legitimate interest, and one that is perhaps more consonant with the conservation of stock.