Fishing Coalition Urges Industry Wide MCZ Response

12th March 2013 in Domestic Fisheries Policy, MPAs

The MPA Fishing Coalition (MPAC) is warning that the time to respond to Defra’s Marine Conservation Zone consultation is running out.

Spokesperson for MPAC, Dale Rodmell said: “The 3 month consultation draws to a close on 31st March. It is essential that those who may be affected by the designations come out and state their case. We are encouraging fishermen to send in their own responses or through local associations but copy them to MPAC1 so that they can be reflected in our response as well”.

Further details of the consultation are available at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/12/13/marine-conservation-zones-1212/

Locations of recommended MCZs including those proposed for designation in 2013:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/mcz-i2-map-20121213.pdf

Formal consultation response form:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/mcz-annex-h-121213.doc

Should Defra’s response form seem too daunting then a shorter form is available at:

http://www.nffo.org.uk/downloads/121217%20MCZ%20Public%20Consultation%20-%20MPAC%20Response%20Form.doc

The Coalition is advising that key issues to respond on include:

  • What effects the different management scenarios would have on fishing communities and the accuracy of the impact assessment.
  • Whether boundaries could be changed that would limit fisheries impacts. In this case an alternative boundary should be proposed.

Dale Rodmell continued: “Some green groups claim that a lot of time was given to planning the proposals, but in reality only 16 months was given to active drawing of areas on charts. Even that was constrained as sites proposed late in the process were quickly “locked-down” with limited scrutiny due to project facilitators’ closing down of options and the positioning of opposing groups in the face of the predefined completion date for the projects.”

“This, together with the failure of the scientific guidance to recognise the wider conservation risks of fisheries displacement means that some of the proposals are really not fit for purpose, whilst others need amending.”

It is the need for careful detailed site-by-site responses from those that would be affected that are most important in the face of what many have called an irresponsible and high-handed campaign led by celebrity chef-turned-conservationist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The 127 campaign has sought to pressurise government into taking hasty and risky decisions to designate all sites that would undoubtedly lead to unintended consequences, as well as great hardship to those communities on the blunt end of such decisions.