Belgian Fishing Effort in the Bristol Channel

19th February 2009 in Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

Belgian fishing industry representatives met recently with Bristol Channel Fishermen in a meeting organised by the NFFO to address a range of concerns. The meeting made progress on a number of fronts.

Joint Belgian and UK Fishing Industry Collaboration and Cooperation Initiative for the Bristol Channel Ray Fisheries (Between the 6 and 12 mile Limits)

The undernoted parties met in London on Friday 13th February 2009, at a meeting facilitated by the Marine and Fisheries Agency, and agreed to collaborate in the establishment of a joint conservation initiative focused on the ray stocks in the Bristol Channel.

The principal elements of the agreement are:

  • Fishing Capacity :To monitor fishing capacity and fishing effort in the Bristol channel fisheries and to discuss the matter further if the anticipated reductions (due to a planned decommissioning scheme for Belgian vessels) do not materialise.
  • Minimum Landing Size: To consider whether progress can be made in providing additional protection to juvenile ray through an increase in the minimum landing size. As there appears to be some advantage to measuring rays from wing tip to wing tip, it is agreed to examine whether this should be adopted as a general approach.
  • Enhanced Survival Rates: Noting the current encouraging scientific research results on survival rates for discarded ray, it was agreed to further this work through additional collaborative research and also through the preparation of an educational leaflet and other materials designed to encourage better handling of rays returned to the sea.
  • Joint Fisheries Science Projects: To consider joint Fisheries Science projects aimed at underpinning improved exploitation patterns in the Bristol Channel ray fishery.
  • Voluntary Seasonal Closed Area: The Belgian industry agreed to consider compliance with the voluntary seasonal closed area in the Bristol Channel. The UK industry undertook to provide data on the rationale and justification for the closed area.
  • Improved Selectivity: To jointly investigate what progress can be made in improving the selectivity of fishing gears in the Bristol Channel ray fishery through improved technical measures. In this context the introduction of square mesh panels and other selectivity devices appropriate to different metiers to be trialled.
  • Regular Meetings: To meet regularly to ensure that the various initiatives are progressed at a reasonable speed
  • North West Waters Regional Advisory Council: To advise the NWWRAC of the joint initiative.
  • Next Meeting: To meet in Belgium in around two months to agree the next steps

Parties to the Agreement

National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations


North Devon Fishermen’s Association

South Wales Fishing Communities

Cornish Fish Producer Organisation

Supporting Parties

Marine and Fisheries Agency

Belgian Sea Fisheries Administration