April 2021 – News

Bluefin tuna off the coast of Wales represents a “massive opportunity”: A welsh fishing group has said that the return of bluefin tuna off the coast of Pembrokeshire is a “massive opportunity” for science and fishing led tourism. The Welsh actor Julian Lewis Jones, who is also a patron of the Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers, said that there was the opportunity to create a “world class” fishery off the coast of Wales, but that they had to act fast as England and Scotland were already ahead in establishing their own tuna fisheries. The BBC quoted Mr Jones as saying “Being a mad keen fisherman myself I know what lengths people will go to see their dream fish … and these are huge – some of the biggest tuna in the world – just 10 miles off the Welsh coast … If we aren’t up to speed we will lose our chance.” However, Joan Edwards of the Wildlife Trust said that the number of Bluefin tuna had been reduced by eighty per cent across the world, meaning that any recovery in Welsh and wider UK waters was fragile. She told the BBC: “I’m sure it’s very exciting to land such a fish but [we should consider] the trauma that fish is going to go through … I just feel that we’ve got some recovery happening in our marine environment and that’s something to celebrate – I don’t think we should be catching them.” Click here to read more on this story.

Conservation group calls for marine national parks around the UK: Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has set out plans for ten national marine parks to be established around the coastline of the UK. The charity, which is led by Charles Clover, the author of the influential book on overfishing The End of the Line, has identified the areas where the marine national parks could be situated and said that they could be created within the next ten years. Speaking to the Guardian, Clover said: “It is remarkable that we have no parks in the sea, after seventy years of national parks on land. Our natural heritage is right there, just off the beach, but paradoxically the public is hardly involved in the enjoyment or the stewardship of this island nation’s greatest asset.” He also said that the marine national parks could pay for themselves through increased tourism and spending in the areas where they are sited. Read more on this story by clicking here.

Fishing prescribed by NHS Trust for the first time: Fishing has been prescribed by an NHS Hospital Trust for the first time to treat anxiety and depression. Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust will pilot the scheme which is being run in conjunction with the angling charity Tackling Minds. The charity has received national lottery funding to provide qualified angling coaches to help vulnerable people go fishing in order to improve their mental health and wellbeing. All fishing will be carried out on a catch and release basis. Read more on this story here.

Marine biologist offers his take on Seaspiracy as controversy continues: The controversy over the documentary Seaspiracy has continued this month, with the world-renowned marine biologist Professor Daniel Pauly offering his take on the film. Writing on the Vox website Pauly stated that he “wanted to like Seaspiracy” but overall it “did more harm than good.” Pauly criticised Seaspiracy’s use of controversial and sometimes inaccurate facts, poor understanding of scientific processes and use of “anti-Asian tropes to make its points. He also said that Seaspiracy “twists the narrative about ocean destruction to support the idea that we … can save ocean biodiversity by turning vegan” and squandered the opportunity to get people to work together to improve the health of the oceans. Read the full article on the Vox website by clicking here.

UK and Norway fail to reach agreement on fishing rights: Fisheries talks between the government and Norway have broken down with no agreement being reached, meaning that UK fishing vessels will be unable to access the sub-arctic Norwegian waters which provide annual catches of cod and haddock worth £32 million for British trawlers. The government said that their “fair offer” had been rejected, despite the UK and Norway reaching a post-Brexit agreement to co-operate on fishing, as the BBC report here. The news will affect some parts of the UK fishing industry particularly badly. The £52 million super-trawler Kirkella, which fishes out of Hull, relies on accessing Norwegian waters meaning that the future of the vessel is now uncertain. Jane Sandell, the CEO of Fisheries UK which owns the Kirkella said that the government had been “unable even to maintain the rights we have had to fish in Norwegian waters for decades, never mind land the boasts of a ‘Brexit Bonus’, which has turned to disaster” and that “there will be no British-caught Arctic cod sold through chippies for our national dish – it will all be imported from the Norwegians, who will continue to sell their fish products to the UK tariff-free while we are excluded from these waters.” Read more on this story on the Yorkshire Post website by clicking here.

French fishermen block British fish imports: French fishermen have used burning barricades to block UK-landed fish from being sent across France to a fish processing factory in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The protest was made in response to delays in issuing licences that would allow French fishermen to access British waters. Following Brexit, the French fishermen have lost the automatic right to fish in British waters, but a licencing system has been put in place to allow some French fishermen continued access. While the French fishing industry believed that licences would be issued quickly, fishermen from the Hauts-de-France region say they have been waiting weeks for the licences, which they say puts their livelihoods at risk. Reuters reported that several dozen fishermen used burning wooden pallets and barrels to block roads and displayed a sign which said: “You want to keep your waters??? OK … So, keep your fish!!!.” The barricade was lifted after one day. Read more on the Reuters website by clicking here.

Salmon could soon be farmed on land, BBC reports: Farmed salmon has been seen as a success story, with the Scottish salmon farming industry expanding significantly in recent decades. However, this expansion has brought greater attention to the damaging aspects of salmon farming which include high fish mortality rates, large numbers of escaped fish, parasitic infections, large amounts of pollution and issues around the huge amount of wild fish which are caught to feed farmed salmon. A BBC article this month has reported on an American salmon farming operation that raises salmon in tanks on land, a development that would eliminate many of the environmental issues caused by raising salmon in open-water pens, which is the method used in Scotland. The American scheme is being run by a company called Bluehouse which is based in Florida. The company raises salmon in chilled tanks in a vast warehouse-like building and aims to produce 9,500 tonnes of salmon this year. A new technology called RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) maintains the temperature, salinity, and PH levels of the water. Waste is filtered out and water is treated and reused. This means that the salmon are never exposed to diseases or parasites, their waste and uneaten food does not pollute the marine environment and escape is impossible. Plans to farm salmon on land have, however, been criticised. Animals welfare organisations such as Peta have said that all forms of fish farming are cruel, whereas concerns have also been raised about the high levels of carbon emissions which will result from the tanks needing to be constantly cooled. Bluehouse have also encountered problems such as a water quality problem which forced the company to harvest 200,000 salmon before they had reached full maturity. Despite this criticism and the setbacks the company has faced Bluehouse maintains that land-based salmon farming is viable and more environmentally friendly than open sea farming. Read more on this story by clicking here.