It’s Fishy

21 Jun

In 2009 I couldn’t understand that Elin Jones, then Minister for Rural Affairs was in Morrisons store, Aberystwyth launching their fresh fish range, which was being supported with a considerable grant from wag. I was puzzled because local Welsh fishermen had been telling me that they were often struggling with supply and of course they can’t fish to order! Supermarket chains, like Morrisons, insist not only for a consistent supply of fish, but they also require particular fish species. There isn’t, and never has been, the consistency of supply of fish from Cardigan Bay that a supermarket the size of Morrisons requires. I’m not a fish expert, and never will be, but I do talk to people on the ground, or in this case, people on the sea, to find out about the problems they face.  I simply couldn’t see this working. Local people and of course I include myself, often struggle to buy local fish because most of the fish taken from Cardigan Bay are sent abroad.

At one meeting I spoke to a person I’ll not name, but who was employed to promote Welsh fish and he said he frequently bought Scottish fish. He’d no problem with that at all – and still he drew his salary, with apparently a clear conscience!

Ms. Jones said that at the time the Welsh Government worked hard with fishermen and the supermarket to make this supply chain work, but the fact is, it isn’t working. Ms. Jones now urges Minister Alun Davies, who is currently responsible for Fisheries, to redouble efforts to sustain the supply of local fish to customers. Well that is something, but my question is, after much government money was put into this scheme, shouldn’t ‘someone’ be responsible for its failure? Additionally shouldn’t that ‘someone’ take the trouble, and I’m sure it would be a trouble, to explain to us taxpayers why it failed? Or maybe because it’s government money being wasted or lost, does it simply get swept once again under wag’s lumpy carpet?

In case you’re unsure why I’m cross about this, it’s because we have quite a few fishermen/women with us as Best Of Welsh & Borders producers. On 9/7/12 after chatting with one of them, I was asked by this fisherman if I would write to Alun Davies, then Deputy Minister, expressing their concern about Marine Conservation Zones and the dramatic damage it will do to the Welsh Fishing industry.

I was happy to help and did so, suggesting an evening meeting, that I’d arrange, with some of BOW fishermen and members of the Cardigan Bay Seaman’s Association to discuss their concerns.

My response some 19 days later – well this is the government and nothing moves quickly there does it?

Dear Keith Rhodes,    Keith?????  – I’ve obviously changed sex!!!

Thank you for your email.

This invitation was passed to John Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development by Alun Davies AM as Marine Conservation Zones falls within John Griffiths AM’s portfolio.

Unfortunately, due to pressures on the Minister’s diary the Minister is unable to meet. The Minister has asked me to advise that the Welsh Government, through the Welsh Fishermen’s Association and other local community interests throughout Wales, including Cardigan Bay, is very conscious of the concerns about the highly protected approach and will be taking them fully into account before deciding next steps.

What a pity he hadn’t got the time  to meet the fishermen who are trying to earn a living from our seas.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. fishy

    June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

    It’s dreadful that there’s very little support in our Cardiff power base for our fish industry
    Sure this will be more politican lip service and little action, with let’s blame the latest Minister
    We’ve been complaining for years and years, but no-one pays us any attention. I don’t believe Ms Jones did that much for fish either as Rural Minister. She didn’t seem to grasp the reasoning for small fishermen in Wales. She didn’t really work for us on the lower levels, in fact it’s much much worse. Regulation after regulation all against us making life tough that families are now giving up fishing. It’s a difficult life if things go fairly well but in this situation it aint worth risking your life fishing.