With the UK’s exit from EU and the Common Fisheries Policy there is a clear opportunity to learn from the ways in which other countries around the world manage their waters and fisheries. On November 21st 2017 the Company was able to bring together the experience of fisheries management experts from four independent coastal states (Norway, Australia, New Zealand and the USA) with delegates from the UK fishing industry, civil society, NGOs and the public sector, to discuss and produce a report on examples of Best Practice in World Fisheries.
This event, co-hosted with the Blue Marine Foundation, pulled together representatives from all parts of the fishing industry and environmental NGOs – a mix of organisations who have not traditionally found it easy to work together.
The Conference, preceded, the night before, by a very successful dinner which helped break the ice and set the scene, was attended by 150 invited delegates from industry, civil society, the public sector and the press. After an introduction from Chairman of the Company’s Fish & Fisheries Committee, Nigel Bankes, the event was chaired by Sir John Beddington, former Chief Government Scientific Adviser (2008-1013) and presented perspectives from from the USA, Margaret Spring, Vice President of Conservation, Monterey Bay and a former US Deputy Under Secretary of State for Oceans; from Norway, Peter Gullestad Director, Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries; from Australia, Professor George Kaillis, University of Notre Dame; and from New Zealand, Speaker: Dr Geoff Tingley, Director, Sustainable Fisheries Partnerships.
Each speaker was responded to by a representative from both industry and civil society including academics from Plymouth and Exeter Universities, and representatives from the Marine Stewardship Council, Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Deepwater Group and Norwegian Fishermen’s Association. The 45 minute plenary discussion after each session helped to clearly and constructively expose the problems, opportunities, challenges and lessons learned in these four countries and stimulating debate about how we might make the best of the opportunities afforded to UK fisheries, by Brexit.
The Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP, then Secretary of State for DEFRA, spoke to the assembled guests and answered questions. He welcomed the conclusions of the conference, saying :
“Leaving the European Union gives us an historic opportunity to develop a world-class fishing industry while proving ourselves environmental leaders. I have always been clear any new domestic fishing policy needs to be guided by science, and I welcome this report and the insight it gives us into practices around the world.”
The ability to convene, build partnerships and fill knowledge gaps is a key element of our work to support a more sustainable and profitable UK fisheries sector, and at the time, this conference succeeded in facilitating collaboration between industry and civil society figures in a way not done before. The discussion and subsequent report helped to identify clear knowledge gaps and potential opportunities for the UK fishing industry post-Brexit.
Read the full report produced after the ‘Best Practice in World Fisheries’ Conference here.