The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Member of the Welsh Parliament for Aberconwy – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has used a debate contribution on fisheries and aquaculture to call on the Welsh Government to form a timetable for introducing a Welsh Fisheries Bill and improve engagement with stakeholders.
Despite a commitment at the close of the Fifth Senedd that such a Bill would be brought forward, the legislation is missing from the Programme of Government. Likewise, at a meeting of the then-Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee in March 2021, the Welsh Fishermen’s Association told the Committee that it had not had any detailed discussions with the Welsh Government on a future Welsh fisheries policy at this point.
Underlining the need for action, Janet said:
“Our fisheries and aquaculture plants are essential elements of the Welsh food strategy. From North Wales crab to Conwy mussels, small and sustainable producers are providing essential sources of protein and omega 3 to markets across our nation. “With a fleet of over 400 licensed vessels employing 1,193 full-time and part-time fishermen, Wales’s seafood industry is also important to the economy, providing employment and education opportunities. It is vital that we do not sink their ambitions or undermine the longevity of our coastal communities. “If this excellent work is to be sustained, the Welsh Government must urgently form a timetable to bring forward a Welsh Fisheries Bill and update the Senedd on whether progress with stakeholders has been made. “This needs to be implemented alongside work with stakeholders to deliver a new fishing strategy for Wales that is based on the principle of ‘maximum sustainable yield’ and places a legal duty on the Welsh Government to maintain fish sustainability for every stock.”
Mrs Finch-Saunders used her speech to again welcome the UK Government’s establishment of the £100 million in the UK Seafood fund, which has helped to rejuvenate the fisheries and seafood sector; taking advantage of the UK’s additional fishing quota; and bringing economic growth to coastal communities.
Photo: Janet Finch-Saunders MS/AS