THE UK Government is poised to unveil the names of industrial scale fishing companies - both British and foreign - who hold fish quotas in the UK.
Some of them are accused of helping to devastate† fish stocks around the UK and of taking quotas from the UK more sustainable inshore fleet.
The disclosure was announced at the weekend by The Sunday Times, which has been running a "Conserve Our Seas" campaign over the past few months. The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has told the paper that she plans to publish the names of companies holding UK fishing quotas next year. Investigation by its journalists has shown that a large proportion of the UK quota allowance is now owned by foreign firms, many of them Spanish and by companies which have a cavalier attitude to fish conservation. A large number of powerful Spanish trawlers are currently registered in the UK.
The buying up of UK quotas has been going for several years and usually takes place when British vessels are decommissioned.
The quota of those boats is then sold on and this is where foreign firms jump in. Apart from the damage to fish stocks, the practice has had a negative impact on the UK small boat fleet who only receive four per cent of the overall UK quota of 600,000 tons of fish.
It means these vessels frequently run out of quota well before the end of the fishing year and are forced to tie up their vessels unless "swap" arrangements" can be reached to near neighbours in northern Europe.
Caroline Spelman is flying to Rio+20 conference in Brazil this week when she is expected to elaborate further on her plans to name (and, where necessary,† shame) the big quota owners.
However, it unlikely under current legislation that she has the power to strip them of those quotas.
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