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…
In addition to questioning their legal and scientific basis, MPA Fishing Coalition has recently highlighted wide differences in the way that the Defra and the devolved administrations are approaching ‘No Take Zones’ within marine protected areas.
Once MPAs are designated, the focus moves to the management measures that will be applied within them. Depending on the outcome of impact assessments, this could range from little other than perhaps additional monitoring, to complete closure to fishing (No Take Zones).
On the evidence so far:
It is in the nature of devolved government that different policies are pursued in different parts of the country. However the principles of good governance should at least provide a common touchstone that ensures that, even if there is not an integrated approach, within different parts of the UK, then at least a coherent approach should apply. Tested against the principles of good governance, the Marine Scotland approach so far scores well, Defra indifferently and Wales pitifully.
Coalition Chairman, Dr Stephen Lockwood, has recently written to the UK and devolved ministers, underlining the importance using an evidence-based approach when considering whether a ‘No Take’ Zone is appropriate in given circumstances. The MPAC has also presented a paper outlining a consensus focused and evidence-based alternative to the approach pursued so far in respect to the establishment of a network of marine conservation zones in English waters. The statutory nature conservation bodies and Defra agreed to provide a formal response to MPACs proposal and the next meeting between MPAC and Defra / Natural England and JNCC will be held shortly
The Government recently announced a change of policy following a review of the implementation of the Habitats Directive which may have a bearing on policy in the area of marine protected areas. Although the main impact of the Review’s conclusions will be seen with regard to large infrastructure projects, two components are particularly relevant to us:
MPAC has worked hard to ensure that fishing vessels are not bulldozed off their customary fishing grounds; but it has also worked to earn respect by only advancing coherent and well founded arguments base on strong evidence. It is reasonable to expect the same of Government.