A WARNING has gone out that fishermen in many parts of the English Channel are facing the prospect of widespread fleet lay-ups.
The problem is due to the early exhaustion of the skate and rays quota for the eastern channel (VIId).
Voicing his concerns, Tony Delahunty, chairman of the NFFO and chairman of the Federation’s South East Committee, raised the spectre of many vessels having to be tied up for the rest of the year unless the issue is addressed directly.
He said: ‘It is bad enough that we face a closure on this important fishery in September with three months more of the year to run.
‘But my fear is that if this was repeated under the landings obligation then practically the whole south-east fleet would have to tie up or face the risk of prosecution.
‘The boats will be in the impossible legal position of not being able to discard the fish, but not able to legally land them either.
‘This underscores the need for the regional discard plans, when they appear, to provide a way out of this impasse.
‘We know that conservation of skates and rays is difficult because there are many different individual species with different conservation status.
‘But the solution definitely does not lie with blanket measures and fleet tie-ups.
‘In the meantime, it is vital that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) does all it can to get this fishery reopened by swapping in additional quota, domestically, or more likely through an international swap,’ he added.