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Wales set to boost fish farms

UK - Plans to increase fish farming and boost processing facilities are included in the first ever Welsh fisheries strategy.

Wales rural affairs minister Elin Jones launched consultations on the draft strategy at Milford Haven this week.

A key element is to promote all forms of fishing, from aquaculture to sea angling, without damaging the environment. The strategy highlights opportunities for diversifying the fish species which can be commercially farmed in Wales.

Ms Jones it would enable the supply of marine fish species to be increased against the background of diminishing natural stocks. It would also put Welsh coastal fisheries on a sustainable footing should strengthen commercial and recreational fishing, the Countryside Council for Wales believes.

Dr Clare Eno, CCW’s senior fisheries policy officer, said that until now fisheries and wildlife have traditionally been managed independently and there has been little engagement of stakeholders.

“In the past fisheries has been looked at in isolation, and so we are pleased that the vision considers the broader marine environment, and the important economic and health benefits it delivers to the people of Wales.”

The Welsh fishing industry brings around £200m into the Welsh economy and supports about 3,000 direct and indirect jobs. And last week it received a boost with the news it was to get £11m from the European Fisheries Fund.

Elin Jones said coastal fishing communities must be supported whilst recognising the pressures on natural fish stocks, fishing’s environmental impact and climate change adaption.
“The health benefits of eating oily fish are now well-known and this presents a clear opportunity for the Welsh fleet," she said.

“The strategy asks for views on ensuring we are able to process more fish in Wales, which will reduce food miles and encourage local procurement. There could be scope for the industry to provide fish to Welsh schools for example, which will be good for the industry and provide children with a healthy diet,” she added.