Plaid Cymru have warned mussel fishing could disappear from the Menai Strait due to delays in approving management measures.
Local shellfish farmers say the future of their business is at risk because there’s been little progress by the Welsh Government in renewing a Fishery Order, which would allow them to continue to operate.
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, faced calls to ”act with real urgency” when she was questioned in the Senedd this week.
Alan Winstone, chairman of the Menai Strait Fishery Order Management Association, says: ”We have been working for many years now with (the) Welsh Government to safeguard and develop shellfish farming in the Menai Strait, and have been very frustrated by the lack of progress.”
”The Menai Strait has been the leading area for shellfish farming in the UK for generations. There is a real risk that Wales will lose this area and all of the jobs that depend on it if the minister fails to take decisive action on this matter right now.”
”For the well-being of future generations in Anglesey and Gwynedd, we hope that she will respond swiftly and positively.”
According to Ynys Môn MS Rhun ap Iorwerth, mussel farmers in the western Menai Strait applied for measures to be renewed nearly ten years ago and in the eastern Strait over two years ago – but they have ”experienced delay after delay ever since”.
He added: ”If there’s any further delay the industry they have built up over the past 58 years will cease to exist. If (the) Welsh Government isn’t able to prioritise and deliver on this important matter, it brings into question the Welsh Government’s commitment to developing this sector as a whole.”
”This is not only valuable in terms of the direct impact of the sale and export of shellfish, and the economic contribution that makes and the jobs it supports; it’s also very valuable in terms of food security, research programmes, international collaboration, blue growth and the circular economy.”
James Wilson, who runs a mussel business on Anglesey, says his livelihood depends on a renewed order – he’s accused ministers of ”inertia” and ”an almost pathological inability” to provide for the sector.
He said: ”Being proved right sometimes isn’t a great feeling. That the businesses that we have built over decades, and all the lads that have invested their working lives into these, can be placed under jeopardy simply because Government doesn’t seem to be able to apply a long established legal process that helps deliver on its own policy objectives, says something pretty fundamental and bleak about the Wales that we live in today.”