Developing a participatory approach to the management of fishing activity in UK offshore Marine Protected Areas
Successfully involving the fishing sector and stakeholders in decision-making over the…
The latest batch of European marine sites includes designation of the controversial site in Lyme Bay.
In no small measure it was Natural England’s high-handed approach to designating the marine protected areas (MPA) in Lyme Bay that stimulated the UK fishing industry to unite in forming the MPA Fishing Coalition. The Coalition aims to hold government and its advisors to account by ensuring that all future sites are selected and designated on the basis of open, well-found scientific principles and evidence.
The initial, national conservation measures for Lyme Bay were imposed in the face of strong opposition from the industry. Despite ongoing opposition and evidence offered by the industry for an alternative approach, the newly designated European site in Lyme Bay is even more extensive than the original. This one site serves to illustrate the insidious way in which MPA are not only growing in number but expanding.
The announcement by Defra that the Dogger Bank is now a ‘possible’ MPA comes as no surprise. It is widely know that many within the statutory conservation agencies and voluntary pressure groups such as the RSPB have had their sights set on declaring the Dogger Bank an MPA area for the better part of 20 years. It is inevitable that many of these people will seek to have fishing severely curtailed if not banned from the area. This will be despite the Dogger Bank being a focus for intensive fishing activity since the mid 19th century yet continuing to be a productive area for fish, fishing and – it must be said – feeding birds. Unless there is unequivocal scientific evidence to the contrary, the MPA Fishing Coalition strive to ensure that any Dogger Bank MPA is based on a presumption in favour of status quo fishing activity.
Announcements of sites going forward to the European Commission and consultations on new and amended proposals can be found at: