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 NFFO’s Executive Committee has given its full backing to the MPA Fishing Coalition. At its recent meeting it voted funds for MPAC to continue its work in holding government to account in the establishment of a network of marine protected areas in UK waters. It is understood that the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has made a similar commitment.
MPAC is credited with having brought a sense of realism to the implementation of marine protected areas - and halted a headlong rush to establish protected areas on poorly considered grounds. By insisting that the fishing industry has a genuine voice in the designation of marine conservation zones, and that both designation and management measures are always based on sound evidence, MPAC has striven to reduce the effects of the displacement of fishing activity from its customary grounds.
Chaired by fisheries scientist, Dr Stephen Lockwood, MPAC holds regular meetings with DEFRA, the MMO, Natural England and the IFCAs, to discuss the programme of marine protected areas, as it unfolds.
MPAC has to date been supported financially by a wide range of fishermen’s associations and individual fishermen fearful of their livelihoods. Support has also been received from fishermen’s organisations in the Netherlands, France, Ireland and Belgium, also fearful of the impact of poorly designed and located MPAs.
The value of MPAs in protecting vulnerable species and seabed features is fully recognised by MPAC. The issue in not whether there should or should not be MPAs. It is about a rational, fair and balanced process in their establishment them, against a sometimes irrational push by naïve enthusiasts, who see MPAS as an all-embracing solution for overfishing - and all the other ills of the marine environment.
The NFFO provides the secretariat for MPAC.