AM highlights Welsh fishery protection fleet has spent too much time in Conwy marina

Original by Allan George, North Wales Pioneer - https://www.northwalespioneer.co.uk/news/17520418.am-highlights-welsh-fishery-protection-fleet-has-spent-too-much-time-in-conwy-marina/

Photo - North Wales Pioneer

IT IS "scandalous" three Welsh Government fisheries patrol vessels, which have been based at Conwy marina, have rarely gone to sea, according the Janet Finch-Saunders AM.

 

The vessels had sailed on a total of 63 patrols between January 2017 and last February, the AM discovered in a freedom of information request.

She said: “It is well known locally the Welsh Government fleet spends most days berthed, seeming to do absolutely nothing.

“A Freedom of Information Request has finally confirmed this, disclosing some scandalous facts, such as the fleet of three has seen a total of 63 patrols in 26 months, and that last year only 10 were undertaken.

“These vessels have important responsibilities, including enforcement, protecting Welsh waters from illegal fishing, and safeguard our fishing industry for local fishermen. However, it seems to be a very expensive operation when considering that the boats are not used on a regular basis.

“Serious questions now have to be asked about the Welsh Government’s multi million pound fishing fleet, so I have written to the Minister to request an investigation and explanation as to why the fleet is spending a significant time in port."

The role of the Welsh fisheries fleet is enforce fisheries and marine laws around the seas of Wales and help ensure our fish stocks are managed sustainably. They also help safeguard Wales’ fishing industry and coastal communities.

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “Our fisheries patrol vessels fleet protects Welsh waters from illegal fishing activity and safeguards Wales’ fishing industry and coastal communities.

“We have invested £7m for three new state of the art vessels: FPV Rhodri Morgan, FPV Lady Megan and FPV Catrin, as well as two rigid inflatable boats: FPV Gwenllian and FPV Siwan. This puts us in a strong position to effectively enforce fisheries and marine laws around the seas of Wales.

“As well as our significant investment in these new vessels, we have also recruited new crew members, who are undertaking essential training to be ready to carry out their work post Brexit.

“As we exit the European Union, sea based enforcement is more important than ever as we focus on sustainability to ensure our fisheries thrive for years to come.”

He added that while two former fishery patrol vessels, the FPV Cranogwen and FPV Aegis have been moored in Conwy Marina, they were decommissioned in 2018 and no longer form part of the Welsh Government's fleet. FPV Aegis has already left to begin a journey to Liberia.

“FPV Aegis has been officially handed over after the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa team approached the Liberian Government.

“As a result of the donation, the vessel, which has been renamed the Pride of Wales, will help protect the more than 40,000 Liberians, who use dugout canoes to catch fish to feed their families, as well as the wider community, from foreign trawlers operating illegally in Liberian waters.”