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A new future for the East Anglian fishing industry

Posted by East Suffolk Communications Team on 17 October 2019 | Comments

The Renaissance of the East Anglia Fisheries (REAF) group is ready to launch its strategy to rejuvenate the fishing industry along the East Anglian coast!

The UK’s first regional fishing strategy will be launched on Thursday this week, presenting a template for revitalising East Anglia’s fishing industry. The strategy spells out the opportunities presented across all sectors of the industry.  It is born of a unique community-led partnership between three local authorities, the local fishing industry, government agencies and a major port operator. 

Now is a moment of great potential and great threat for the fishing industry of East Anglia and Essex and it is vital that decisions are taken both now and over the next two years.   The strategy unfolds a compelling story of opportunity for fragile coastal communities alongside the agonising risk of losing a culture and proud history of both commercial and small-scale artisanal fishing. 

The opportunity is remarkable.  If the strategy is implemented, when the UK departs from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, there could be a seven fold increase in the value of the quota fish stocks caught by UK vessels fishing in the Southern North Sea and a 25% increase in the value of other fish caught regionally by UK vessels.  This would bring new investment and employment opportunities. Local fishermen would be able to make a decent living, fish processors would see supplies on their doorstep increase dramatically, there could be 300 new jobs onshore as well as offshore and 25 or more vessels added to the UK fleet in the Southern North Sea. The strategy represents a once in a generation chance to revitalise hard pressed coastal communities, reversing decades of decline and adding in excess of £32m to the economy of the region.

The strategy makes the case for the fishery to be managed as mixed fishery, for better data on fish stocks, for sustainable fishing practices and a clear objective of maintaining fish stocks at maximum sustainable yield whilst recognising the reality of mixed fisheries.

The consequences of failure to take decisions and to act will mean that changes will take place in the fishing sector which could turn out to be potentially irreversible. On the one hand, in ten years’ time there could be a thriving sector, celebrating its diversity along the coast, supporting many more jobs off- and on-shore than at present, or alternatively, nearly all the traditional coastal fishing and associated processing and retail businesses could have disappeared. To deliver the strategy and secure a positive future, REAF would look to work in partnership with Defra and the various regulatory bodies. 

The launch will take place in the Palace of Westminster on Thursday 17 October between 12.15pm and 2.00pm and will be hosted by Peter Aldous MP, who has chaired the project steering group.

if you would like a copy of the strategy, please email: reaf@eastsuffolk.gov.uk