View Full Version : Mid-Channel delegates agree to maintain co-operation

Davie Tait
17th March 2018, 15:22

Representatives of fishermen’s organisations and co-operatives from England, France, Belgium, Holland and the Channel Islands gathered in Devon for the 39th annual Mid-Channel Potting Conference, and following two days of discussion have released a statement to the effect that they intend to ensure that cohabitation agreements should continue to be made, industry to industry, into the future.

The consensus was that UK leaving the EU should not affect Gentlemen’s Agreements that were elaborated long before the creation of the Common Fisheries Policy.

‘I have been involved in the MCC for many years and have been on both sides of the industry having owned and operated potting and towed-gear vessels in the Channel. This year’s conference went very smoothly, thanks in large part to the professionalism and competence of the staff at the Ladram Bay Holiday Park, where we all stayed. I cannot thank them and the owners of the venue enough,’ said Nick Prust, who chaired the conference.

‘By meeting in this fashion and discussing face to face our problems and conflicts, these agreements have enabled fishermen of many nationalities to work together in harmony and to resolve their differences,’ he said.

‘We have no doubts that fishing professionals are best placed to find solutions to problems occurring at sea and resulting from using different gear types in the same shared waters. For as long as we continue to co-habit fishing grounds, we intend to meet to ensure healthy and peaceful cooperation. The 39 years of this Mid-Channel Fishing Conference is a perfect example of responsible and harmonious fishing practices.’

The first accord was reached in 1980 between fishermen of different nations who worked together on the same fishing grounds of the Channel. Coincidentally, that agreement was signed at a meeting held in Exeter in October that year, following an initial meeting held in Cherbourg in the summer of that year to discuss conflicts between fishermen using different types of fishing gears on the same fishing grounds of the Channel. The delegates agreed to draw up a chart delineating potting zones of collaboration and cohabitation.

‘This year delegates spoke, as usual with passion, with dignity for their industry and with respect for others who work vessels in the same space,’ Nick Prust said.

‘This past year there have been very few incidents of conflict to report and there were no proposals for changes to the MCC charts. We welcomed a new organisation, Visned to the table. Details of how to contact Geert Meun and thence the Dutch fly-shooters that work the Channel grounds, will be included on the 2018 edition of the charts. Already I am looking forward to attending the 40th MCC to be hosted in Brittany in March 2019.’

The location of the annual meetings rotates among the fishermen’s organisations, with Olivier Le Nezet of Bretagne-Peches offering to be the host for the 40th annual conference in March 2019.

Source: SWFPO