Securing food supplies from Europe’s marine fisheries
Recent marine fish stock assessment data will be used to explore how depleted EU stocks have reacted to stock-recovery programs at the second Buckland Colloquium to be held at Fishmongers’ Hall in London early next month. The effect of climate change on stock recovery will also be discussed at the gathering.
The colloquium, which will take place on 2 June, will examine planned changes in EU fisheries management and regional fisheries governance, the views of the catcher industry and the future of fisheries by 2050.
The state of European fish stocks has been a contentious issue for many years with fishermen in each EU member state regularly blaming their colleagues in other member states for ignoring scientific advice and catching too much fish. Without taking sides, it is safe to assume that in every country with a coastline recommended fishing limits were, and probably still are, being ignored to a certain degree and stocks were becoming seriously depleted.
The general consensus was that there were too many fishing vessels for the quantity of fish in European waters. Various measures have been introduced by the European Commission to reduce fishing effort to a more sustainable level, but what effect they have had is debatable.
In fact, it took the well-publicized Fish Fight campaign by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to highlight the absurdities of one of these measures when he described on television how fishermen were throwing back into the sea fish they were “not allowed” to catch. The fact that they were perfectly fit for human consumption didn’t seem to matter to those who administered the scheme, or to some fishermen who carried it out!
Officially, at least, this practice of discarding is now being phased out and various conservation measures are being introduced as a result of the latest European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which came into effect on 1 January 2014. According to the commission, EU countries have already taken action to ensure the European fishing industry is sustainable and does not threaten the fish population size and productivity over the long term.
In a statement, it said: “Although it is important to maximise catches, there must be limits. We need to make sure that fishing practices do not harm the ability of fish populations to reproduce. The current policy [CFP] stipulates that between 2015 and 2020 catch limits should be set that are sustainable and maintain fish stocks in the long term.”
As is customary at these events, a Buckland professor will speak on the main topic and Dr. Colin Bannister, a former senior fisheries science advisor at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Lowestoft, will outline how depleted EU stocks have reacted to stock recovery programmes.
His lecture will mostly focus on stock trends and management outcomes and he will mention the politics and the negotiating difficulties in relation to North Sea cod.
The effect of climate change on stock recovery will be covered by Dr. John Pinnegar, Cefas Lowestoft.
Also a current Buckland professor, Dr. Carl O’Brien, chief fisheries science advisor to the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, will examine planned changes in EU fisheries management and regional fisheries governance.
Representing fishermen, Barrie Deas, CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, and himself a former Buckland Professor, will present the views of the catcher industry. Looking into the future for fisheries – to 2050 – will be Dr. Stephen Simpson, senior lecturer in marine biology and global change, University of Exeter.
Question sessions will follow each talk and a period of group discussions will be facilitated by Cefas Lowestoft.
Generous sponsorship for the all-day event, which can be attended free of charge by anyone connected to the fisheries industry, is being provided by the Fishmongers’ Company of London. At the time of going to press there were a few places left, but registration on the Eventbrite website http://tinyurl.com/BucklandLecture2015 closes in two days.
Frank Buckland, a 19th century army surgeon, amateur naturalist and Inspector of Salmon Fisheries from 1867-1880 pioneered public communication on rational fishing and aquaculture. The foundation was established in honour of his memory in 1920 to continue that tradition.