20th December 2017

Sir Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Environment Agency is taking to replenish fish stocks off the coast of West Sussex.

George Eustace, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: The Environment Agency’s remit includes the management of fisheries for specific migratory stocks such as salmon and sea trout, and shellfish in the 6 mile zone. For wider marine fish stocks that are present along the coast of West Sussex, the UK Government remains committed to ensuring we have sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment. This includes restoring and maintaining harvested fish species at above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield. The recent management of sea bass and skates and rays is representative of two key stocks, with their geographic distribution including the east Channel, that reflect the ongoing shared management progress towards meeting this commitment.

Sea bass are a key species for both anglers and the inshore fleet operating in the east Channel, and have been in decline in EU waters north of 48° North, so have been subject to EU management measures in recent years to recover the stock. At the recent December Council negotiations for 2018 further restrictions on commercial and recreational bass fishing were agreed. The UK aim was to ensure a fishing mortality rate is applied that will help achieve an increase in the spawning stock for the following year, which will support longer term recovery.

The main commercial skate and ray species in the Greater North Sea region, which includes the east Channel, are recovering, and this supported our securing a 20% increase to the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in both of these areas for 2018.

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