Robert Goodwill has been appointed as Fisheries Minister at Defra. He takes over from George Eustice who has resigned over issues concerning the delay to Brexit votes. Goodwill has arrived to receive a scathing letter from the Lords concerning quotas

MCS Debbie Crockard: ‘New fisheries minister – more than just goodwill will be needed in a sea of challenges

MCS Fisheries Policy Officer, Debbie Crockard, reflects on the choppy waters surrounding the new Fisheries Minister, Robert Goodwill, as the House of Lords attacks unsustainable fishing levels in the EU.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee has written to Defra Minister Robert Goodwill MP with serious concerns about the level of unsustainable fishing allowed by the fishing quotas for 2019 that were agreed by EU fishing ministers. The letter is scathing and says “it is inexcusable that EU fishing Ministers failed so spectacularly in their responsibility to secure sustainable catch limits.”

Each December fishing ministers from across the EU convene to agree how many of each species of fish EU fishers can catch – known as the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Those decisions are informed by scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on how many fish can be caught sustainably, and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy requires sustainable fishing across the EU by 2020. The new fisheries Minister, Robert Goodwill, who’s only been in post since March 5th faces a sea of challenges in his new role. Not only Brexit and the new Fisheries Bill, but also in meeting existing obligations for sustainable fishing – hence the letter. As pointed out to him by the letter, only 59% of stocks for the North East Atlantic were set in line with sustainable limits – down from 69% the year before. This is particularly concerning as there are a number of commitments binding the UK and the EU to set fishing limits at sustainable limits by 2020. Click here to read more

No UK fisheries go ‘green’ in latest Good Fish Guide ratings

By: Clare Fischer MCS

The latest MCS Good Fish Guide ratings changes, published online today, show a disappointing lack of movement for UK fisheries both on to the Best Choice list, and off the Fish to Avoid list. ‘Whilst there have certainly been improvements in fisheries management over the last decade and subsequent improvements in the health of many fish stocks, progress has now stalled’ Samuel Stone, MCS Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture. MCS fisheries experts say this is hugely disappointing. The charity says with Brexit, in whatever form, just around the corner, without strong post-Brexit fisheries management more fisheries could find themselves being red-rated and moved onto the Fish to Avoid list. Over 100 ratings for 45 different species of fish that are caught within the UK’s exclusive economic zone are red-rated in the Good Fish Guide. Samuel Stone, MCS Head of Fisheries and Aquaculture, says Brexit will be the catalyst to either reignite improvements or result in a further decline in the health of UK fisheries: “Whilst there have certainly been improvements in fisheries management over the last decade and subsequent improvements in the health of many fish stocks, progress has now stalled. We are looking to the UK and the Devolved Administrations to put the long-term health of our seas and coastal communities first, by ensuring the new Fisheries Bill and other pieces of legislation are ambitious and will deliver sustainable fisheries.”

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