Nav: Home

Redefining 'small-scale' fishing may help support English fisheries

July 26, 2018

Researchers at the University of York are calling for a re-evaluation of the definition of 'small-scale' fishing vessels, following a study that shows the impact of these vessels are underestimated.

Legislators have recently committed to more support for small-scale fishing vessels using sustainable methods, alongside a government white paper that states reform of the management of English inshore fisheries is needed post-Brexit.

New research at the University, however, has shown that the impact of small-scale fishing vessels is currently skewed by a length-based definition of scale which doesn't account for fishing capacity.

Whilst some small boats catch small volumes of fish, others have the ability to catch significantly more, despite being grouped in the same 'small-scale' category, the report says.

Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart, from the University of York's Environment Department, who supervised the collaborative study with the New Economics Foundation (NEF) said: "The UK government characterises small boats as less than 10 metres in length, which account for 76% of all fishing boats in England.

"Under current UK law this means that more than half of the boats in England are only permitted to catch less than 5% of the available fish quota in its surrounding waters. This means these smaller boats move to target non-quota species instead, such as lobsters and crabs and other species such as cuttlefish that are popular on the continent, or whelks which are a delicacy in South Korea and form the main target fishery for English inshore vessels.

Peter Davies, who led the study while doing his MSc in the Environment Department at York, said: "Fisheries for these types of species, largely shellfish, typically lack data or effective management, which mean there is a threat to the sustainability of fish stocks and the small boats themselves.

"If only 24% of boats in England - those above 10 metres - hold rights to over 95% of the fishing quota, then we clearly have an imbalance that needs resolving. By re-evaluating the capabilities - and therefore the definition of 'small-scale' vessels, it will help us point to the kind of support they need going forward."

The researchers showed that not only can some under 10 metre vessels carry a lot of fishing gear and catch fish in large volumes, but many are also fitted with the latest technologies to locate fish and catch them.

Despite this capability, the study showed that small boats generally have a low impact on the wider environment due to the static equipment they use to fish, such as nets and pots, that don't disturb the seabed, compared to the dredges and trawls commonly used by larger vessels.

Researchers hope that the new findings will prompt new thinking on 'small-scale' fishing and the kind of support needed post-Brexit in order to be sustainable and help enhance their local economies and coastal communities.
-end-
The study is published in the journal Marine Policy.

University of York

Related Fisheries Articles:

Study champions inland fisheries as rural nutrition hero
Researchers from MSU and the FAO synthesize new data and assessment methods to show how freshwater fish feed poor rural populations in many areas of the world.
For global fisheries, it's a small world after all
Even though many nations manage their fish stocks as if they were local resources, marine fisheries and fish populations are a single, highly interconnected and globally shared resource, a new study emphasizes.
New study maps how ocean currents connect the world's fisheries
It's a small world after all -- especially when it comes to marine fisheries, with a new study revealing they form a single network, with over $10 billion worth of fish each year being caught in a country other than the one in which it spawned.
Federal subsidies for US commercial fisheries should be rejected
A pending rule change proposed by the US National Marine Fisheries Service would allow the use of public funds to underwrite low-interest loans for the construction of new commercial fishing vessels.
Sustainable fisheries and conservation policy
There are roughly five times as many recreational fishers as commercial fishers throughout the world.
More Fisheries News and Fisheries Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...