Minister hears of fishing woes

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith with shadow fishing minister Barry Gardiner and fisherman Will Bamber
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith with shadow fishing minister Barry Gardiner and fisherman Will Bamber

The shadow minister for fishing discovered the complexities of the issues facing Fleetwood’s inshore fishermen on a visit to the town.

Barry Gardiner heard about the problems facing the Fleetwood fish-catching community and possible solutions. Invited by Fleetwood’s MP Cat Smith, he met almost a dozen fishing representaives at the North Euston Hotel.

The main difficulty facing the small remaining group of local fishermen, in the Under-10 metres category, is the quota restrictions placed on the types of fish they predominantly catch - fish such as skate, ray, plaice, sole and cod. It means limited catches bring in less money for them to remain financially viable.

But there are other issues, including the different ways quotas are divided up between separate areas of the country.

For skate, the quota for boats in Fleetwood ends up being reduced if boats down south have a bumper season and foreign boats add to the problem.

Conservation issues are also a headache, as many fishermen believe data being used to protect fish species is not accurate and does not take into account the lower number of boats fishing today.

There are different rules for the under and over 10s and controversy over whether wind turbines affect fish habits in the Irish Sea.

Mr Gardiner said: “I am keen to help. What is clear is what may be a solution for one group may be an actual problem for another. It is very complex but important I find out about issues so I’m in a better position to question the Government’s policy on fishing.”

Fisherman Will Bamber, 32, said: “Having a minister visit and talk to us can never be a bad thing - at least our problems aren’t ignored.”