Government announces support for pollack fishers affected by zero-catch limit

A box of freshly-caught pollock in Plymouth
Freshly-caught pollack in Plymouth

Fishermen affected by a zero catch limit on pollack will have applications for Government grants fast-tracked, after warnings that the impact on businesses could be "devastating".

The Government made the decision to set the pollack catch quota to zero amid concerns about stock in the South West.

It has been met with calls for compensation from fishing businesses who claim they are struggling to survive.

On Friday 23 February, the Government made an announcement in a bid to relieve pressure on affected fishermen, including faster processing times for applications for financial grants.

Those who choose to apply to the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme will see the processing time halved to four weeks, which the Government says will help fishermen diversify and explore new ways to make a living.

Gary Eglinton is a handline fisherman based in Newquay. He is one of those set to lose money because of restrictions on catching pollack this year.

He told ITV News: ‘’Nearly half of my earnings last year were from pollock.

The problem is they’ve taken that away, and we’ve still got the same bills going out, insurance, mooring fees and fuel, but our earnings are cut by 50%."

A total of £6 million funding is available through the scheme this year for those who make fast-track applications.

Fisheries Minister, Mark Spencer MP, said: "We fully recognise the impact that the bycatch-only pollack fishery has had on many fishermen in the South West and today’s measures will provide support to those most affected.

"Grant funding will help to support them to diversify and explore other income streams.

"Whilst their participation in a new scientific study will not only provide additional support but help to improve our understanding of the pollack stock as we look to improve its sustainability into the future."

The scheme, which opened in 2021, will re-open for applications this month and applies for hand-and-pole line fishers of under-10m vessels.

Defra has also announced a new scientific study that will see scientists and fishermen work to increase their understanding of pollack stock in the region.

Fishermen will be paid for their training and for taking part in the study, according to Defra, and can sell any pollack they catch.

It comes after increased pressure on the government by local MPs, including the Conservative for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray.

ITV West Country has also heard from struggling fishing communities, including a family that has been forced to sell their boat after 300 years of working off the Cornish coast.

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