Government announces next steps to support pollack fishermen

Certain fishermen to benefit from fast-tracked applications to Fisheries and Seafood Scheme

New measures to help fishermen affected by restrictions to pollack fishing for 2024 have been announced by the government today (Friday 23 February).  

Hand-and-pole line fishermen of under-10m vessels, which includes some of those affected by the zero Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for pollack, will be able to benefit from fast-tracked applications for a share of £6 million in grant funding available through the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme. 

Separately, they will also have the opportunity to be paid for their participation in a new scientific study which will aim to understand more about the stock structure of pollack – and sell the pollack that they catch as part of the study.  

During recent fisheries negotiations with the EU, it was decided pollack can only be caught as bycatch in 2024. This followed advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) to set the TAC for pollack to zero.  

The government’s approach to negotiating catch limits is based on the latest scientific advice, balanced with commitments to economic sustainability and providing opportunities for the UK fleet, consistent with the objectives of the Fisheries Act. 

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:  

"We fully recognise the impact that the bycatch-only pollack fishery has had on many fishermen in the South West and today’s measures will provide support to those most affected. 

"Grant funding will help to support them to diversify and explore other income streams, whilst their participation in a new scientific study will not only provide additional support but help to improve our understanding of the pollack stock as we look to improve its sustainability into the future."

Fisheries and Seafood Scheme 

The Fisheries and Seafood scheme (FaSS) has relaunched for 2024, with approximately £6 million in match funding available to projects that support the development of the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors, and those enhancing the marine environment.   

Administered by Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of Defra, applications from all fishermen are encouraged, but hand-and-pole line fishermen of under-10m vessels, which includes some of those affected by the zero TAC for pollack, will see their applications fast-tracked, with processing time reduced from eight weeks to four weeks.  

This will help to get support to those most affected more quickly, helping them with diversification and to explore new forms of income. 

New scientific study 

Separately, affected fishermen will also have the opportunity to supplement this income through taking part in a new scientific study led by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). 

The study will be open to all fishermen and will see collaboration between scientists and fishermen to increase understanding about the stock structure of pollack. 

Fishermen will catch pollack for use in the study, receiving payments for their initial training and for their participation in the study – and would be able to sell the pollack they have caught. 

Applications, along with detailed eligibility criteria, will be open as soon as possible. 

Longer-term management 

To improve the longer-term management of pollack, the UK will work with the EU via the Specialised Committee on Fisheries (SCF) towards an improved assessment of the stock. 

The government will continue to work with industry representatives as part of this. This joint work will also help to improve our understanding of the recreational fishery, with a view to the introduction of limits where appropriate and where these are likely to be effective in reducing pressure on the stock.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Marine Management Organisation
The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP