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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Fish plan nets prince's interest
Prince Charles talks with fishermen - PA
Prince Charles joined some fishermen for a mug of tea
Fishermen from across the South West met the Prince of Wales in Plymouth to discuss the industry and unveil an initiative.

The Invest in Fish South West scheme is the first project in the UK which will involve fishermen with environmentalists and retailers.

The three-year scheme will look at how to manage English Channel fish stocks.

It will work with groups from other countries that fish in the area, including France, Spain and Ireland.

I believe we need substantial areas where all extractive activities are prohibited
Prince Charles
The initiative will look at different ways of managing the region's fisheries, such as establishing fishing "closed seasons", or using different types of fishing nets.

Each scenario the initiative considers will be rigorously tested for its economic, social and environmental implications.

Taking part in the project are the World Wildlife Fund, the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, Marks & Spencer and English Nature.

On Wednesday, a group of fishermen from around the region met Prince Charles in Plymouth to discuss their concerns in the industry and launch the project.

He welcomed the project saying that conventional fisheries management had resulted in "a damaged and degraded environment".

He suggested that establishing "marine protected areas", where fishing was restricted or banned, in British waters could help restore fisheries.

He said: "I believe we need substantial areas where all extractive activities are prohibited, and where other significant human pressures are minimised."

Prince Charles also said the project was an indication of how forward thinking the region was.

He said: "You understand about long-term sustainability and you know how to make an investment in the future.

"The history and culture of this part of the country, more than perhaps than any other, is intimately bound up with the sea and a sustainable marine harvest.

Prince Charles examines fishing net - PA
The Prince examined fishing equipment currently in use
"It is unthinkable that the same can't be true of its future."

After his address, the Prince stepped on board the trawler Margaret of Ladram, based in Brixham, south Devon.

He examined special nets designed to allow smaller fish to escape before being taken on a tour of the boat.

He then sat down with fishermen for a mug of tea in the vessel's galley to hear their concerns about fishing quotas and financial pressures.

Fisheries minister and Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said of the new scheme: "This is a forward-looking and constructive programme for the fishing industry.

"It seeks to find solutions to current fishing challenges through consensus, collaborating with those most affected by the fishing industry."

Sam Lambourn, president of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisation and chair of Invest in Fish, said: "The fishing industry holds a positive future and I strongly believe that the project will lead the way.

"We have a diverse group of professionals involved who share a fundamental hope and interest in the sustainability of the industry.

"Their intentions and determination will result in a realistic management plan which benefits us all."

If the scheme works, it could be copied across Europe.




SEE ALSO:
Fishermen support seal cull call
25 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Trawlermen to net rubbish at sea
22 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Quota-hit fishermen head south
02 Apr 04  |  Devon


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