Fisheries management, sustainability the truth!

By Paul Trebilock, Chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation. The Cornish Fish Producers Organisation began in 1976 as a non-profit making co-operative and today consists of 2010 fishing vessel owning members from all over Cornwall. Our fishermen own vessels ranging from a 5 metre single – handed cove boat to a 38 metre beam trawler. They use a diverse range of fishing techniques including beam trawling, crab/lobster potting, gill – netting, long lining, drift – netting, scallop dredging, ring – netting and handling.

With ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmentally responsible fishing’ the key concepts of the modern fishing industry Cornish vessels are perfectly poised to meet consumer expectation and ensure the ultimate assurance of sustainably caught fish.

The Cornish Fleet have been pioneers of the modern fishing industry:

  • Fishery Science Partnerships (FSP) have ensured scientists and fisherman working together to improve scientific stock assessments leading to sensible quota levels.
  • Work on gear configuration such as release panels and mesh configuration has led to a reduction in discards and more selective fishing.
  • Cornish fisherman initiated the largest closure of spawning and juvenile fishing grounds off the North Cornish coast.

For a number of key stocks such as Dover Sole and Hake there are agreed long term management plans in place that have been agreed by the fishing industry and scientists to secure the long term sustainability of many fisheries.

This pro-active stance has seen an improvement in many stocks and associated increases in both the abundance and quota levels, which means that you can be confident that the fish landed by Cornish Vessels has been done so responsibly.

As a fisherman’s organisation we would like to set the record straight. The rhetoric from environmental groups, celebrity chefs and well meaning individuals that all fish stocks are in terminal decline is plain wrong. These sorts of spurious statements are based on emotion and misinformed perceptions. The scientific evidence is clear; many stocks are improving, fishing practices are heavily regulated and fishermen are in the main environmentally aware. If you are genuinely interested in the truth and provenance of you fish then ask those who know – the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation!

Quota availability to Cornish Vessels remains one of the key issues to ensure that best practise remains a top priority. Schemes like the Duchy Fish Quota Company (DFQC) are working to secure quota in Cornwall and encourage best practice by those who use that quota. Therefore by supporting the DFQC you are supporting sustainability.

There is not an unlimited amount of any specie. If we are going to take conservation seriously before we give advice to consumers on what they should or shouldn’t be eating we have a responsibility to speak to the people that understand fisheries and stock levels in order that we don’t swap the pressure from one species to another because of self-promoting interests. The bottom line is, the fish landed on the market is sustainable, so buy what is available, in season, and high quality and that is all there is to it!

Buy Cornish Fish with a clear environmental conscience!

Paul Trebilcock
Chief Executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation.