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Countryside Council for Wales
Landscape & wildlife Please note - A new body, Natural Resources Wales has taken over all functions and services previously carried out by Countryside Council for Wales. While the Natural Resources Wales website continues to be developed, some online services will continue to be provided on this web site.


Commercial and recreational fishing is putting pressure on sea life.  Radical changes in the way fisheries are managed, together with CCW’s efforts to drive forward an  “ecosystem approach” to protecting marine species, are starting to address the problem.


Commercial sea fishing around Wales is diverse and includes:

  • Larger offshore vessels targeting prime fish – mainly ‘flagships’ registered in Wales but owned and operated by interests outside the UK
  • Smaller inshore vessels targeting shellfish
  • Seasonal inshore fisheries (out to 6 nautical miles) for bass mullet, turbot, brill and rays
  • Shellfish collection and cultivation on or near the shore – mussel cultivation is very substantial in the Menai Straits and Swansea bay.

Recreational fishing of skates and rays (elasmobranches) has a firm tradition in Wales, though it has declined in recent years. These species are particularly vulnerable because of their biology and shape.

Bad Management

Badly managed fishing harms the marine environment.  It can result in:

  • Bycatch - catching organisms not originally targeted such as marine mammals, turtles and seabirds
  • Damage to the seabed habitat and its community
  • Indirect effects on the biological community due to the marine food web

CCW's Response

We need to maintain and enhance marine biodiversity in Welsh waters by making sea fisheries environmentally sustainable.  At present, most fisheries are managed on the basis of the size and distribution of stocks of individual fish species.  This is inadequate because it takes no account of the interaction between fish species, or the impact of bycatch.

CCW is currently advising on the environmental aspects of a new fishing strategy being developed with the Welsh Government.

Important conservation issues include:

  • Reducing overall fishing effort
  • Providing sanctuary areas (or 'no take' zones) to buffer the effects of fishing
  • Managing fisheries using an ecosystem approach and the precautionary principle – as adopted by the new Common Fisheries Policy in 2003
  • Managing fisheries on a regional seas basis, with the participation of fishermen and environmental groups (including local management of inshore waters)
  • Assessing non-quota and new fisheries, particularly elasmobranch fishers.

Who manages fisheries?

  • The main source of legislation in the seas of Europe is the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
  • The Welsh Government handles Fisheries policy in Wales
  • The Marine Fisheries Agency is responsible for Wales’ fisheries licensing and enforcement
  • Inshore fisheries are managed by Sea Fishery Committees (SFCs)
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Postal address
The land and sea use team
C/O Enquiries
LL57 2DW
Telephone number
0845 1306229
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