NEW measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of an important South West fishery have been announced after Cornwall’s fishing industry led the way.
Two years ago, the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation went above national regulation and pioneered a voluntary measure to protect crawfish stocks.
There has been a significant resurgence of the fishery in recent years, which has led to an increased amount of targeted fishing.
Since then, Cornish fishermen have been calling for the government to bring in a higher minimum size for catching crawfish as national policy.
Earlier this week, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) revealed their decision to introduce the measure.
Aiden Mcclary, 23-year-old fisherman from St Ives, doesn’t mind taking the economic hit if it sustains the stock of Crawfish
He said: “We don’t want history repeating itself. Years ago, back when my dad was fishing, there was a massive crawfish stock but it was wiped out because of a lack of management in place.
I’d rather make less money but have it as a more consistent income further down the line because we’ve protected the fishery.
Having government listen to us and roll it out as a national measure is a great achievement for Cornwall, especially after so long of us crying out for help to manage this important fishery.”
The minimum size of crawfish that can be caught will increase from 95mm to 110mm (carapace length), which will harmonise the minimum landing size inside and outside the 6-mile limit.
It will come into effect on January 1st, 2024.
Will Harvey, West Cornwall shellfish exporter, said:
“It’s really refreshing to see the MMO listening to us on the ground for once and reassuring to see they’re finally putting what is necessary in place.
Hopefully, increasing the minimum landing size will prolong this fishery. It’s about learning from the past because we don’t want to lose it, it’s too important to the economy and our coastal communities here.”
According to the MMO, the total value of crawfish landed at Cornish ports last year was nearly 1.3million pounds, a 400% rise since 2012.
The UK’s annual landings for crawfish have risen from 19 tons in 2012 to 55 tons in 2022.
Chris Ranford, CEO of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said: "Cornish fishermen are always at the forefront of sustainable fishing and it is no surprise that they are leading the way with setting new fisheries management in this post-Brexit era.
"There is no better time to manage a fishery than when stock is on the way up, something we’ve been highlighting to government for several years, so we’re thrilled that they’re finally following Cornwall’s lead and implementing this measure.
"Bringing scientists, fisheries managers and local fishermen together to develop new ways to manage our fisheries is absolutely the approach we should be taking as an independent coastal state.”