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Written Statement - Introduction of Vessel Tracking Devices in the Welsh Scallop Fishery and proposed removal of Historic Access Rights

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Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and European Programmes.
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Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes

In my Statement on the Welsh Fisheries Strategy on 27 March 2012, I informed members that two items of legislation will be introduced in preparation for Autumn 2012. The purpose of this statement is to update Members on the timetable to deliver those pieces of legislation.

The first of these relates to the plans to introduce compulsory vessel tracking for all vessels engaged in the Scallop fishery.  The Scallop Dredging Operations (Tracking Devices) (Wales) Order will apply in relation to Wales to regulate scallop dredging operations by placing a requirement on British registered fishing boats engaged in the Welsh scallop fishery to transmit certain vessel location information. The technical nature of the regulation means the Statutory Instrument will shortly be transmitted to the European Commission to comply with the twelve week standstill of the Technical Standards Directive and will also be made available for review on the Welsh Government website.  Upon completion of this requirement the SI will be laid in the Assembly with a view to its coming into force in advance of the next scallop fishery.

The second item of legislation concerns the issue surrounding what is known as ‘Grandfather rights’ in the Welsh inshore areas.  The Sea Fisheries Committees introduced maximum vessel restrictions through Byelaws.  At the time of introduction, exemptions were also introduced for a small number of vessels, to allow fishermen who had purchased boats greater than the maximum size allowed an opportunity to adjust their fishing operations. A significant amount of time has passed since the making of the Byelaws and it is considered that the fishermen affected by the exemptions have had adequate time to make the necessary adjustments.  The Sea Fishing Operations (Maximum Boat Size) (Wales) Order 2012 seeks to replicate the maximum vessel restrictions in Welsh waters and removes those grandfather rights.  It is intended that the Order will be introduced in the Autumn and the removal of the exemptions will be completed by April 2013.  Again, the technical nature of the regulation means the Statutory Instrument will shortly be transmitted to the European Commission to comply with the 12 week standstill of the Technical Standards Directive and will also be made available for review on the Welsh Government website.  Upon completion of this requirement the SI will be laid in the Assembly.

These proposed items of legislation are a significant step forward in my aspiration for delivering sustainable and profitable fisheries for Wales in the inshore area.  I expect to make announcements on further proposals for fisheries management in the Autumn.