Thriving fish industry lands £73.5m catches in South West
Fisheries leaders have hailed a new report as proof positive that their industry is productive, responsible and thriving.
According to figures published yesterday by the Marine Management Organisation, UK fishing boats landed slightly less catch last year than the previous year, but its value was substantially higher.
Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said the figures proved the fishing industry deserved respect.
"These statistics do not paint a picture of an industry in decline – they say it is a productive industry and in economic terms is performing well," he said.
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"They say it is an industry which has improved, marketed itself well and is diverse.
"By definition, it is an industry which is acting responsibly.
"It is working in terms of the economy, in terms of creating and supporting jobs, in terms of food supply and in terms of increasing food security."
The annual snapshot of the UK's fisheries provided by the MMO shows that in 2011,vessels landed just under 600,000 tonnes of seafish, including shellfish, into ports at home and abroad.
This represents a 1 per cent fall in quantity. However, the total value of the catch was £828 million – a 15 per cent increase on the previous year.
In the Cornish FPO territory, over 15,000 tonnes of fish was landed with a value of £35.5 million.
The majority of this – just over £24 million – came from the sales of demersal fish, such as hake, haddock, monkfish and sole.
In Newlyn, Cornwall's biggest port, 10,000 tonnes with a value of just over £22 million were landed in 2011, with monkfish, sardines and crabs the three biggest catches. In Mevagissey, fish worth just over £2 million was brought ashore, mainly haddock, sardine and pollack.
Meanwhile, fishing in the River Fal accounted for just over £1.4 million worth of catch, which was overwhelmingly scallops.
In the South Western FPO, which covers Devon, 2011 saw 28,000 tonnes of fish landed to the value of £38 million.
At Brixham, more than £26 million worth of fish, mainly scallops, monkfish and cuttlefish, was landed.
Plymouth saw 14,000 tonnes of mainly horse mackerel, mackerel and scallops landed.
At Teignmouth, £643,000 worth of catch was landed and at Exmouth, Salcombe and Ilfracombe it was £1.3 million, £2 million and £1.6 million respectively.
Overall, the biggest moneyspinner in Devon was the sale of shellfish, which accounted for £21 million of the total.
The MMO says shellfish has becoming an increasingly common part of the British diet, with reported landings increasing by more than a factor of five over the last 50 years.
However, Paignton fisherman Nick Prust, of the South West Inshore Fishermen's Association, predicted the figures next year would tell a different story as closures of areas like Lyme Bay to shell fishermen had an impact.
"We haven't got enough quota for certain species," said Mr Prust, who is also vice-chairman of the South Western FPO.
"The industry could do a lot more, but obviously with restrictions we are stuck.
"Next year when we get this fancy report in it will show that scallops will be in decline because so many areas have been taken away."