Cornish fishing industry's fears for the future over 'zero catch' limit

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Fishing industry leaders in Cornwall say government plans to effectively ban them from catching certain species would be 'devastating'.The quota for pollack for the next 12 months could be set at zero - presenting a major challenge for fishers in our coastal communities.

The Government sets fishing quotas each year according to scientific advice. Credit: ITV News

Chris Ranford, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Association, said: "We have a really unique situation this year, the pollack stock in the South West has been advised as a zero catch for next year.

"This is going to be very challenging for businesses. It affects the very small inshore hook and line boats that you see dotted all around the county, right through to some of our bigger offshore boats that catch pollack throughout the year.

"If they are in a position next year where they can't catch any, or they certainly can't target any, we really need to understand how we're going to support those businesses."

Hundreds of tonnes of fish are landed off the Cornish coast every year. Credit: ITV News

But environmental campaigners argue the move is long overdue to protect the marine environment.

Charles Clover, founder of the Blue Marine Foundation, said: "The British Government has been allowing overfishing. Over 50 per cent of the fishing opportunities in 2023 were set above scientific advice.

"You can't go on like that without seeing more of these recommendations for zero catches. It's a failure of fisheries management, that is what has caused this. And the fishermen can't complain now that it's a zero when they weren't complaining that they were taking too much before. You could see this coming since the eighties, far too much has been caught."A spokesman for Defra told ITV News: "We negotiate quotas and catch limits based on the latest scientific advice, balanced with our commitments to economic sustainability and providing opportunities for the UK fleet.

"We will continue engaging with the South West industry to explore ways to address their concerns."