Shellfish Consultation

24th June 2009 in Shellfish, Shellfish

An NFFO delegation met recently with Defra officials and the Shellfish Association of Great Britain to discuss shellfish policy.

It is has been clear for some time that Defra is determined to press ahead with a consultation on a suite of shellfish conservation measures, including some form of effort control, possibly including pot limitations.

The Federation has agreed that it is sensible to apply conservation measures when stocks are reasonably buoyant, rather than waiting until there are problems and remedial measures are more difficult to absorb. However it is also important to avoid rushing into poorly thought-through measures that can do more harm than good in conservation terms and have a serious impact.

One of the more obvious features of our crab and lobster fisheries is strong regional differences as well as inshore/offshore variations. The Federation therefore used the meeting to emphasise that the regulatory impact assessment, which by law must accompany the consultation, should be both thorough and comprehensive and should take account of rather than disguise regional differences. A measure that will work well and be acceptable in one area may be wholly inappropriate for another area. Variations in seabed characteristics, different biological patterns as well as different fishing gears and fishing strategies can all be significant.

The Federation has agreed to work with the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and shellfish interests in the republic of Ireland on a project to clarify the options available to safeguard crab stocks for the future whist ensuring a reasonable return for fishermen. Oversupply has been a particular problem facing the crab market in recent years.