November 2020 – News

Fisheries Bill passes into law: The Fisheries Act 2020 has passed into law this month giving the UK control of its own waters. The bill means that EU vessels will no longer have the automatic right to fish in British waters and will have to abide by a licencing scheme which the UK will control. The government has said that a “commitment to sustainability” will underpin the act. Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “This is a huge moment for the UK fishing industry. This is the first domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years, and we will now take back control of our waters out to 200 nautical miles or the median line. The Fisheries Act makes clear our intention to continue to operate on the world stage as a leading, responsible, independent coastal State. We will protect our precious marine environment, whilst ensuring a fairer share of fishing opportunities for UK fishermen.” Read more on this story by clicking here.

US and EU accused of blocking mako shark protection: Mako sharks are highly prized for their strength and speed, making them a target of mostly US-based boat anglers, while the species is also caught for its meat and fins by Moroccan and Spanish vessels. This has led to numbers of mako sharks plummeting and conservationists warning that even if fishing for mako sharks stopped altogether it would take around five decades for the species to recover. It was hoped that urgently needed protection for the species would be agreed this month by ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) the organisation which regulates tuna and shark fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding waters. The UK – acting for the first time as an independent nation after leaving the EU – had backed a Canadian proposal to fully protect the species. However, the US and EU failed to back the proposal, stating that it would not stop mako sharks being caught as bycatch and instead put forward their own plans which would allow mako sharks to continue to be caught under certain circumstances. This derailed the whole agreement with the chairman of ICCAT saying that he now had no option other than to put back the plans to protect mako sharks back until 2021. Ali Hood, the director of conservation for the Shark Trust said: “North Atlantic mako depletion remains among the world’s most pressing shark conservation crises, yet the EU and US put short-term fishing interests above all else and ruined a golden opportunity for agreeing a clear and simple remedy.” Read more on this story by clicking here.

Beach clean finds large rise in PPE on UK beaches: The Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach clean has found a significant rise in the amount of PPE such as gloves and facemasks on UK beaches due to the coronavirus crisis. The MCS carried out beach cleans in 385 places covering almost 44,000 metres of coastline and found that items of PPE were present in around a third of areas cleaned. Plastic and polystyrene pieces, bottle lids, the lids of disposable cups and wet wipes remained the most commonly found items. The results are concerning as they show that the lockdown and people spending more time at home has resulted in little reduction in litter. Read the full article by clicking here.

Angling allowed to continue during the second lockdown: The UK went into a second lockdown at the start of November with non-essential businesses closing and people being told to work from home when possible. While most grassroots team sports have been forced to shutdown during this lockdown angling has been given a reprieve. Following talks between the government and the Angling Trust (the body which represents all coarse, game and sea anglers in Britain) it has been announced that people can go fishing with one person from outside their family group or support bubble. People should not travel long distances to go fishing and have been urged to act within the spirit of the government’s rules which are designed to allow people outside for sport and recreation while still remaining socially distanced and preventing the spread of coronavirus. An article in the Independent noted that other outdoor sports such as golf, tennis and archery have not been treated in the same way as angling and have [at the time of writing] had to shut down during this lockdown. While anglers can fish in outdoor spaces without time limits there are still some restrictions with organised fishing competitions and fishing in groups of three or more people prohibited. Read more on this story by clicking here.

BBC in row over the term “fisherperson”: A number of media outlets ran stories on the BBC using the term “fisherperson” in a news report this month. The BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler used the term when discussing fishing talks and Brexit. Critics pointed out that only a tiny number of women are involved in commercial fishing and the term fishermen was a common word which has been used without issue for decades. However, others pointed out that saying fisherpeople was more inclusive and the BBC stressed that there was no ban on using the word fishermen. Ashley Mullenger who calls herself the “female fisherman” backed the use of the term fisherman and said, “I don’t see the issue with being called a fisherman even if you are a woman.” Read more on this story by clicking here.

Conservationists call for video surveillance to be fitted to fishing vessels: Prominent environmental campaign groups Sky Ocean Rescue and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have called for fishing vessels to be fitted with CCTV cameras to monitor bycatch levels. The WWF have found that millions of sharks, 720,00 seabirds and over 300,00 seals are accidentally caught by commercial fishing vessels across the world each year. As well as this huge levels of non-target species are caught and disposed of each year either because the fishing vessels do not have quota for them or they are low-value fish which the commercial fishermen do not want to retain. There is currently little regulation or monitoring of bycatch, but it is believed that remote electronic monitoring could give a much more accurate picture of bycatch levels and inform policies and regulations to reduce accidental catches. Options to implement such surveillance technology could consist of mandatory imposition by governments or through consumers demanding that the fish they purchase comes from fisheries which have low levels of bycatch. Click here to read more on this story.