MP for Beverley and Holderness Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley & Holderness

Holderness beach fishermen’s hopes rise for early Sea Bass dispensation

Graham has received a welcome boost to his campaign for the EU to scrap its new regulation which prohibits the Holderness onshore fishermen from landing Sea Bass.

Graham met onshore fisherman Shaun Wingham and his wife Penny in Withernsea recently to hear about the impact of the new EU regulation which prohibits them from landing Sea Bass. Shaun and his colleagues fish using a net that is stretched out along the beach at low tide, allowing the catch to be brought in when the tide retreats again.  Sea Bass is the most valuable part of their haul.

This rule has no conservation value.  As the fishermen have a licence to catch salmon and sea trout they still catch sea bass in their net but are not able to land them – instead the dead bass have to be thrown back into the sea, discarded on the beach or used as crab bait. 

As Graham says “The Holderness on-shore net fishermen have been fishing in this sustainable manner for centuries; they are part of our local culture and heritage which we treasure and wish to see continue long into the future. This regulation is extremely damaging not just to their businesses but to the economy of the whole area. It is vital that we get a special dispensation for these local fishermen so that this traditional fishing method can continue.

Graham lobbied the Fisheries Minister George Eustice to look again at the rule, saying:

“It is infuriating that this EU rule is threatening the livelihood of our last remaining onshore fishermen like Shaun when it will do nothing to protect Sea Bass stocks.  I appreciate the need to ensure sustainable fishing but given that the Holderness onshore fishermen still catch Bass when they fish legally for salmon and sea trout, the situation makes no sense. 

“I am delighted to report that following a discussion in person with the Minister last week, he has written to let me know that his department’s officials have held discussions with the European Commission to help build the case for an amendment at EU level. If this can be agreed, it may be possible to introduce the necessary amendment in the next few months, when Bass catches in the Holderness beach fishermen’s nets tend to peak.”

Mike Cohen, the Chief Executive of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group, said:

“The beach netting fishery for Bass in East Yorkshire is small-scale and sustainable. It is highly species-selective and has the lowest possible environmental impact. This is exactly the sort of fishery we should be promoting, not wiping out as an unintended consequence of an ill-thought-through EU rule. I am glad of Graham Stuart’s involvement in this issue and his support for local fishermen. Sensible, proportionate and evidence-based management of the fishery is vital and DEFRA’s collaborative approach and Graham’s interest are both very welcome.”

Shaun Wingham, a Holderness on-shore fisherman from Withernsea, said: “I am delighted that Graham has taken up this issue with the Minister and is taking our case to the highest level. With the new regulation, our livelihood is under threat and it is vital that we get a dispensation so that our traditional method of fishing can continue on the Holderness coast.”

April 27th, 2017


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