Fishing seeing hints of new dawn, Prince Charles says

The Prince of Wales yesterday came together with fishermen from across Britain to lead action in ensuring a future for the country’s fishing communities.

In a keynote speech, Charles praised the work of UK fishermen in taking steps to reduce the impact of their industry on the marine environment.

He was speaking at the closing session of a three-day Fishing into the Future workshop, which was jointly hosted by The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit and industry body SeaFish.

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Charles, speaking during a visit to the harbour town of Brixham, Devon, with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, said: “Three years ago when I asked my International Sustainability Unit to look into the future of fishing, the situation did seem rather gloomy.

“But today I am a bit more optimistic.

“There are some very good examples of best practice emerging – for instance right here in Brixham where fishermen are leading the way in reducing the impact of their activities.

“I have just come from the harbour where amongst other things, I was shown a local beam trawler fitted with equipment that significantly reduces by-catch.

“As you know far better than I, this leads to fewer undersized fish being caught and helps protect the seabed.

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“It also cuts fuel use and lengthens the life of the fishing gear.”

Fishing into the Future is the first UK-wide workshop of its kind, bringing together fishermen and representatives from across the industry with fisheries scientists, retailers, policy-makers and conservation groups, to address the challenge of preserving Britain’s fish stocks while sustaining fishermen’s livelihoods.

The workshop aims to give British fishermen a voice and provide an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the debate on sustainable fishing.

Fishermen were able to consider the best ways to address issues critical to the future of their industry, not only through expert advice but also through exchanging experiences with each other, overseas fishermen, and those from other parts of the industry.

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It is hoped Fishing into the Future will enable new partnerships to be forged and present opportunities to highlight leadership and best practice.

The workshop forms part of the International Sustainability Unit’s marine programme, which the Prince of Wales formally launched in February last year.

During his speech yesterday, Prince Charles said: “If I may say so, fishing, far from being as some appear to have assumed, an industry that is sailing into the sunset, is, in fact, increasingly witnessing hints of a new dawn.”

“It is encouraging that all over the UK fishermen are taking action and setting an excellent example. The fact that nearly half of the UK catch has been certified as sustainable illustrates just how committed our fishing industry is.”