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Newlyn Pier & Harbour Commissioners Welcome Secretary of State for Transport to Newlyn Harbour

Newlyn Pier & Harbour Commissioners Welcome Secretary of State for Transport to Newlyn Harbour

Newlyn Pier & Harbour Commissioners (NP&HC) have welcomed the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, to Newlyn Harbour.

Following a brief tour of the Harbour and Newlyn Fish Market, accompanied by NP&HC Chairman, Rob Wing, Harbour Master/CEO, Jonathan Poynter and MPs, Derek Thomas and Steve Double, Minister Harper announced the Government’s decision to waive the requirement for routine medical checks for fishermen on vessels measuring 10m and under, following extensive consultation with the industry, to ease financial burden and provide support to the UK’s fishing communities.

Caption: Derek Thomas MP/Newlyn Harbour Master & CEO, Jonathan Poynter/ Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper/ Steve Double MP and Rob Wing, Chairman of Newlyn Pier & Harbour Commissioners (Image Credit: Laurence Hartwell)

While the safety of fishermen will always remain the top priority, Minister Harper explained that the Government was delivering this pragmatic policy change so that small-scale fishing businesses were not unduly forced ashore and financially burdened by the cost of medical assessments, enabling them to continue fishing without restriction.

In November 2023, regulations came into effect requiring fishermen working on small UK flagged vessels to have a certificate of medical fitness. While exemptions were initially granted for eyesight, BMI (Body Mass Index) and diabetes, this exemption has now been extended to all existing small-scale fishermen.

Following his announcement, Minister Harper then led a round table discussion with representatives from the Cornish fishing industry, including the Marine & Coastguard Agency, the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation, W Stevensons & Sons Ltd and several individual inshore fishermen who had previously had to pay for costly medical assessments to prove that they were fit to work. In some cases, medical certificates had been refused even though fishermen were working safely and this had not only impacted negatively on mental health and sense of purpose but had also forced some to leave the industry.

Rob Wing said: “We were pleased to host the Secretary of State for Transport, Minister Harper, at Newlyn Harbour and all those who attended the round table broadly welcomed his announcement.

“Whilst commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous industries there is and safety is therefore paramount, it is important to strike a balance between regulatory policy and the day-to-day reality of the single fisherman, who is fishing for mackerel a few metres from the Harbour, and this extension of medical exemption for the under 10m fleet delivers that.

“Minister Harper demonstrated that the Government can effect policy change quickly, following consultation, if there is a pragmatic reason for doing so. This visit also provided the opportunity for other issues to be aired such as the need to reduce bureaucracy between Government agencies and departments, and to speed up the decision-making process for fishermen who are applying for grants.”

Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, said: “This government backs our fishing industry, which is why we have listened to fishing communities and are easing the burden on small-scale fishermen to make sure they can continue their work unhindered.

“Our fishing sector will be able to continue operating safely, protected by our world leading safety standards while supporting the UK fishing industry that forms the backbone of so many coastal economies.”

You can read the Government’s announcement here.