The Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd has accused the Welsh Government of “systematically undermining the Welsh fishing industry” after visiting working fishermen on the Llyn Peninsula.
According to the most recent data, there are 897 full-time and part-time fishermen working in Wales with a total seafood economic value of £44.1 million.
Local fishermen are warning that illegal fishing is becoming an increasing issue in Wales whilst policing is “non-existent.”
The Welsh Government’s new multi-million-pound patrol fleet “to protect Welsh waters from illegal fishing activity” has been anchored in Welsh marinas since 2019 due to a lack of marine enforcement officers.
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS described the Welsh Government as being a ‘fish out of water’ when it comes to Welsh fisheries.
Mr ap Gwynfor said; “I recently visited local fishermen at Porth Colmon in my constituency to discuss the challenges facing the Welsh fishing industry.
“Whilst we were out at sea, we came across a suspected illegal boat fishing for seabass.
“Illegal fishing of these waters destroys biodiversity and undermines local livelihoods.
“The Welsh Government needs to take this issue seriously.
“Having their patrol fleet moored all year round at the public’s expense, or stopping officers from carrying out their duties, is undermining the Welsh fishing industry.”
Sion Williams, who has fished the seas at Porth Colmon on the Ll?n for 34 years, said: “I am very disappointed yet again with the lack of at-sea and on-land enforcement by Welsh Government fishery officers.
“Having spent millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money on these new vessels, you would have expected them to be at sea most of the time.
“I feel very disappointed with the lack of delivery on fisheries management over the last ten years from the government.
“They say that they’re committed to delivering a sustainable and economically viable marine environment, but have failed to deliver what is required, in fact they have fallen way short of what is expected, on all aspects of fisheries management.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Welsh Government Marine and Fisheries Control and Enforcement Team have been carrying out operational activity throughout the Covid-19 following a brief pause in activities at the beginning of the pandemic.
“While our activities have been restricted in line with Covid-19 legislation and guidance to ensure the safety of both the industry and our staff throughout this period, it is absolutely not the case that the vessels have been anchored since 2019.
“We have recruited 12 new marine enforcement officers who are being trained to cover the full range of operational duties both ashore and at sea.
“We will now be looking to resuming boardings at sea on our vessels over the coming weeks and months where it is safe to do so, while boardings at ports have resumed some time ago.”