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NFFO West Coast Committee Focuses on Inshore Issues
The NFFO West Coast Committee brought together Bella Murfin, Defra's head of the Access to Fisheries policy team and Chief Fisheries Officers from the two North West SFCs to discuss the issues facing the sector at its latest meeting in Whitehaven on 18th November.
The meeting was preceded by a port visit to Maryport.
The Federation has been working to raise the profile of the Irish Sea which has suffered from a lack of attention from authorities in the past, an over bearing and blunt Cod Recovery Plan, contentious proposals on the nephrops fishery to cut the TAC and poor market prices which are painting a bleak picture for the region.
The Committee received an update on Defra's ongoing Sustainable access to inshore fisheries project where its advisory group comprising industry, retail, SFC and NGO interests is preparing a proposition paper for wider discussion on future management options for the sector.
Proposals for Natura 2000 marine protected areas intended for the protection Common Scoter and Red Throated Diver in Liverpool Bay and reef and shallow sand bank features at Shell Flats and Lune Deep off Fleetwood were discussed. Particularly for the birds site, it was questioned why such a large area required designation given the relative low numbers of recorded birds over quite substantial parts of the proposed area.
Concerns over further wind farm developments in the region were also discussed, including proposals for a wind farm in Wigtown Bay which would be located on important nephrops grounds where there had yet to be any consultation with English interests.
Ron Graham, Chairman of the Committee said: "The Committee welcomed the opportunity to impress upon Defra the serious issues we face in the region. The proposed 30% cut on the nephrops TAC, the mainstay for the region, would in itself put needless pressure upon an already seriously strained fleet and is wholly unwarranted.”
“We hope that the SAIF project will come forward with some sensible proposals for managing the inshore fleet. One improvement that is certainly needed is to bring quota management closer to the regions to better match quota provision with the available opportunities and seasonal cycles.”
Photograph: From left to right Sam Surgenor, Dick Langley (Committee Vice Chairman), Ron Graham (Committee Chairman), Bella Murfin and John McAvoy