Ban on landing small-eyed ray expected to be lifted within the next few days

North Devon's fishing industry has some breathing space with a ban on landing ray set to be lifted.

John Balls, chairman of North Devon Fishermen's Association (NDFA), told the Gazette they had received notification of a lift in the ban in landing small-eyed rays in the Bristol Channel.

He said the lifting of the ban by the European Union in fisheries areas VII F and G would give fishermen a quota allocation of 49 tonnes.

"That's not a huge amount, but that's better than nothing," he said.

"That figure will be to last the year. In the next couple of days they will decide whether it will be allocated by so many kilos per fisherman per month."

Mr Balls said people should be able to begin fishing again from the middle of this week.

In March, the Gazette reported how local trawlermen were faced with the prospect of selling up or moving their boats to South Devon.

"Now they have the small-eyed ray back there's a mixed bag of species they can land," said Mr Balls.

But he said the news had come too late for one Bideford boat, which has already been sold.

In a letter to the NDFA, fisheries minister George Eustace said the Government had reacted quickly and worked with scientists and the industry, including NDFA members, to request the EU reverse the restrictions in areas where rays were abundant.

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