Environmental Campaigners Tell Michael Gove Not To Fail Fisheries Post-Brexit
A coalition of the UK’s most influential environmental campaigners has joined forces to demand that Environment Secretary Michael Gove ensures that the post-Brexit management of the UK's fisheries is not compromised by 'a lack of sustainability objectives in plans for fisheries management.'
The Marine Conservation Society, ClientEarth, Greenpeace, New Economics Foundation, RSPB, Sustain and WWF have launched the #maynotcontainfish campaign, enabling members of the public to email Michael Gove and outline the top priorities for the new Fisheries Bill. Posters and digital billboards across the UK will feature iconic seascapes with the stark warning: 'CAUTION, MAY NOT CONTAIN FISH'.
The Government has launched a public consultation asking for feedback on its White Paper, outlining post-Brexit plans for fisheries management and setting the scene for the new Fisheries Bill. The coalition’s experts say the document is far too light on sustainability detail which could result in the Bill being developed more as a stop-gap than a foundation for ‘world-leading’ future fisheries management.
Samuel Stone, head of fisheries and aquaculture at the Marine Conservation Society said: 'The outcomes from this consultation will shape how our fisheries are managed long into the future. The Government is listening, and we need to make sure we ALL tell the Environment Secretary that our fisheries must be better managed and must be sustainable.'
'If we take this opportunity and get the new Fisheries Bill right, it will pave the way for larger, healthy fish stocks, less impact on our seas, profitable fishing communities and the country becoming synonymous with sustainable seafood,' added Mr Stone. 'We have a long way to go, but we are at a pivotal moment and this consultation and resulting Fisheries Bill will provide a critical platform for all future fisheries management.'
The group says that Mr Gove must understand that 'fisheries' are not just about fish stocks but the wider marine ecosystem, and everything and everyone relying on its health. The group believes that far too many fish stocks have been depleted in our waters, far too many habitats have been damaged and far too much of our amazing marine wildlife, like porpoise, dolphin, seabirds and sharks, are killed in commercial fisheries.
Tom West, Law and Policy Advisor for ClientEarth said: 'Our research shows overwhelming public support among the British public – more than three out of four people – for new laws that ensure we fish responsibly and protect our seas after the UK leaves the EU. The Government has made a number of promises for sustainable fisheries after Brexit, but so far we’ve seen almost no concrete plans for how these promises will be kept.
'Everybody now has the chance to make their voices heard and tell decision-makers that the sustainability of fish stocks and the health of our marine environment must be at the core of fisheries law and regulation after Brexit,' said Mr West. 'This is the chance for the Government to be ambitious and set rules that ensure marine life in the UK’s seas continues to recover and thrive for generations to come.'
The environmental NGOs say fisheries should be managed for public benefit, with respect for wildlife, which is why sustainability must be at the heart of their future management. The email highlights the six areas the group says the new Fisheries Bill must include to achieve world-leading fisheries management:
- Holistic: Healthy fish stocks are essential for marine life to thrive. They should be managed as a public resource and we should take into account the impact of human activities on this environment.
- Sustainable: Fish stocks are struggling. We need to manage them carefully, allow them to recover and, wherever possible, eliminate the negative impacts of fishing on the marine environment.
- Science-led: When making decisions about how much we can fish and when, the government should always use the best available science.
- Accountable: Fisheries should be fully transparent and everything that is caught should be recorded. This allows fisheries to be effectively managed, which means infringements can be properly enforced and fisheries are held to account.
- Fair: Fishing opportunities need to be allocated on the basis of transparent environmental, social and economic criteria, in a way that encourages the most sustainable fishing.
- Equivalent: The same high environmental standards should apply to all vessels fishing in UK waters (foreign or domestic).
The public consultation runs until 12 September, visit www.maynotcontainfish.com for further information. If you prefer to craft your own reply to the Environment Secretary, you can visit the UK government's public consultation page: consult.defra.gov.uk/marine/sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations/