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 last Wednesday, Plaid Cymru’s rural affairs and agriculture spokesperson, Cefin Campbell MS, warned that commercial fishing activity was declining to such an extent that it risks “disappearing into the ether”, and Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor, said it was a surprise to him that the government does not do more to invest in the sector.
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.
Speaking at the debate, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor, said: “The fishing industry is extremely important to our communities here in Wales, and to the communities of Dwyfor Meirionnydd. The sector has huge potential and it’s an ongoing surprise to me that the Government doesn’t do more to invest in this sector and to secure its viability.
“I had the privilege of going crab and lobster fishing with Sion Williams from Porth Colmon over the summer months, and saw the huge contribution that his work makes to the local economy, but also the local community, as he provides food of excellent quality, full of protein and healthy, to local suppliers.
“There is huge potential to develop a prosperous, indigenous fishing sector that can play a central role in regenerating coastal communities, providing quality jobs that provide healthy and sustainable produce. In speaking to fishers the length and breadth of Wales, their concern is that there has been no progress in the sector for over 10 years. The challenges and problems facing the sector remain the same as they were 10 years and more ago.”
The Welsh Government said it supported the motion in Wednesday’s debate.
A Welsh Government spokesperson added: “We want to see fishing and aquaculture industries in Wales that are sustainable and environmentally conscious, as well as economically viable and thriving. We are committed to delivering a strategic approach to both fisheries and aquaculture, and work closely with our stakeholders in doing so.”