Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities

20th February 2012 in Inshore

An NFFO delegation met recently with Dr Stephen Bolt, the Chief Executive of the Association of IFCAs, the new umbrella body for the 10 inshore fisheries conservation authorities, which have replaced the old sea fisheries committees.

This was a useful meeting which allowed us to compare notes on the challenges facing the inshore fisheries

The Association has been created to strengthen the visibility of IFCAS at national level and to facilitate coordination between the IFCAs - but not to speak on their behalf or to determine policy. This will be the exclusive competence of the 10 local IFCAs.

MPAs

It is clear that perhaps the major challenge facing IFCAs over the next few years will lie in the application of management measures for those European Natura sites and domestic marine conservation zones which lie within the six mile limit. The Federation was able to share with the Association the vision, developed by the MPA Fishing coalition, of a consensus based approach to managing the sites in ways that provide the necessary protection for vulnerable species and habitats whilst minimising the displacement of fishing activity. Managing the areas outside the various marine protected areas may prove to be as much of a challenge because of the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive which applies stringent standards for good environmental status.

Shellfish Policy

A regionalised approach to the management of the shellfish fisheries in which IFCAs necessarily play a central and dynamic role will be another major focus of IFCAs work which overlaps with the Federation’s policy.

The IFCAs have to achieve their goals within the context of budget constraints, and the complexities of government (Defra, Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, Environment Agency, not to mention the devolved administrations and European legislation.) The performance of the IFCAs will be reviewed after four years.

Cooperation

There was much overlap in the concerns and views of the Federation and the Association. Our strong emphasis on the regional dimension and tailored management measures and antipathy towards top-down one-size-fits-all solutions sits well with the IFCAs’ focus and responsibilities.

We aim to work closely with the IFCAs and this was a good start.