Commercial fishing risks “disappearing into ether”, Plaid’s Cefin Campbell MS warns.

The Welsh Government should bring forward a new strategy to support the fishing industry in Wales, Plaid Cymru has said.

In a debate in the Senedd today, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs and Agriculture Spokesperson Cefin Campbell MS will warn that commercial fishing activity was declining to such an extent that it risks “disappearing into the ether”.

Mr Campbell called for a strategy to support a “vibrant, sustainable, and viable sector” and to future-proof the industry to not only allow it to play its part in the fight against climate change but to contribute to the Welsh economy too.

The fishing industry is a large contributor to the Welsh economy, with seafood landings in Wales in 2016 contributing £15.3million to the economy but the number of fish caught and docked in Wales has radically dropped over the past decade.

In 2012, UK vessels landed 26,000 tonnes of fish into Welsh ports. That dropped in 2016 to 15,000 tonnes by vessels in all segments of the fleet and to 9,600 tonnes in 2020 - with Belgian fleet landings into Wales accounting for a third of this.

The Welsh fleet landing into Welsh ports accounted for just 4,337 tonnes in 2020.  

Plaid Cymru’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs spokesperson Cefin Campbell MS said,

“There is a rich fishing heritage in Wales, and those who work within the sector contribute economically to our rural and coastal areas.

“But the pressures on the sector and the decline in commercial fishing activity means the industry risks disappearing into the ether.

“There have been multiple missed opportunities over the last ten years to deliver an improved Welsh fisheries policy regime. Out of date strategies need updating if we are to future proof our fisheries sector, enabling them to contribute to the Welsh economy, and play their part in the fight against climate change.

“An effective climate-smart fishing strategy would reduce the carbon emissions that come directly from the Welsh fishing fleet; and enhance marine biodiversity by reducing the damage from unsustainable fishing practices.

“We need a strategy to support a vibrant, sustainable and viable fishing sector in Wales during this Senedd term, and without further delay. The impact of not doing so will be felt in both economic and cultural terms, as well as disrupting the food supply chain.”